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F1 NEWS 

Branson: Brawn deal boosted by win

Richard BransonRichard Branson said that Brawn GP's debut one-two in the Australian Grand Prix increases the chances of his Virgin Group becoming a major long-term part of the team.

The Virgin deal was announced in Melbourne yesterday morning, with Branson hinting that the team could ultimately be renamed after his company - perhaps as early as in the first half of this season.

He confirmed that the team's success today had done its chance of a substantial Virgin tie-in no harm at all.

"Watch this space," Branson told the BBC. "At the moment we're just sponsors. One day Virgin might name a team after Virgin, so we'll see, and I'm sure we'll have some discussions.

"They've certainly got me addicted to the sport today, so it would be a good time to sit me down and have a word, I think.

"On a serious note, they deserve support. This car, six weeks ago it looked like it was never going to race. It looked like all the people who worked for the former Honda team were going to be out of work.

"We would never have known what a brilliant car it was, so it's great to be part of rescuing the team, and we hope that Virgin will be part of it going forward."

He said he had thoroughly enjoyed his first day as part of a Formula 1 team.

"It's a great day. It was just a magnificent grand prix," said Branson. "We have a brilliant, brilliant engineer in (Ross) Brawn, that was the person we were really investing in, two great drivers who delivered. A great start to the season. Pretty damn good."

He also confessed to celebrating when Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel collided, allowing Brawn's Rubens Barrichello to move up to second behind his team-mate Jenson Button.

"You shouldn't cheer when two cars collide, it's not a very natural thing to do," said Branson. "But when you're actually supporting the person behind them, I'm afraid I have to admit we did let out a yell."

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