Virgin Racing was one of the three new teams that joined F1 last season, but Richard Branson’s latest plaything has always been in the shadow of Lotus Racing and now Team Lotus. But there’s a shake up happening within, which has already seen technical director Nick Wirth leave. Now, Virgin has announced a technical partnership with front runners McLaren, which will give them access to Woking’s top notch facilities.

“Under the terms of this technical partnership, Marussia Virgin Racing will be able to access McLaren’s wind tunnel, simulator, rigs, and fitness and well being programmes. These properties are state-of-the-art, and we confidently therefore expect Marussia Virgin Racing to derive significant benefits from them,” revealed McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

“When we undertook our detailed review of the team in the first half of 2011, it was clear that our bold ambitions for the future would need to be matched with some equally bold steps towards achieving them. Our technical partnership with McLaren is very exciting indeed. McLaren is one of the most prestigious and successful marques in grand prix racing history, with an enviable record of success over many years,” said Andy Webb, CEO of Virgin Racing.

“We can benefit enormously from McLaren’s far-reaching techniques and capabilities and I have no doubt that this partnership will see us take the technical steps necessary to make a significant leap forwards,” he added.

All this comes after Virgin hired Pat Symonds as consultant since the start of this season. The former Renault man was implicated in the 2009 Crashgate scandal, and is serving a ban till 2013 that doesn’t allow him to take an official position. He will continue working for Virgin.