Branson: Ferrari criticism is 'sad'

Richard Branson has labelled Ferrari's attack on Formula 1's new teams as 'sad', and thinks the Italian outfit should be welcoming fresh competition rather than be unhappy about it

Branson: Ferrari criticism is 'sad'

A column on Ferrari's website this week attacked the push by former FIA president Max Mosley to bring new teams into the sport because of the struggles that US F1 and Campos Meta had faced.

It claimed Mosley's 'holy war' had been a failure and reckoned that F1 would have been better off keeping manufacturers like BMW and Toyota involved.

Branson, whose Virgin Racing team is one of four new outfits that won an entry for this season, is clearly unimpressed by the stance adopted by Ferrari - especially because proposed rules breaks that would have helped new outfits were blocked by the established teams.

"I think that it is a bit sad to see Ferrari carrying on with those kinds of words," said Branson during a visit to testing at Barcelona on Saturday.

"F1 needs new teams, and Ferrari won the battle of making sure the new teams were shackled. For testing, we built a new car and we are going to have to have exactly the same amount of practice time as Brawn or Ferrari or the others, who have had years and years and years to get their cars to a certain stage.

"We are not complaining about it, and we are happy to go on with it, but Ferrari should be welcoming new teams because they [the new teams] make the sport much more exciting. And we will make them look better for a year or two until we catch them up. Ultimately, I think the new teams will give Ferrari a run for their money and I think will make the sport more exciting - particularly as the budgets come down to more realistic levels."

Branson also believes that the move by manufacturer teams that blocked the FIA's plans to put a budget cap in place for this season was wrong.

"I think it was a pity that they were resistant and I think it is foolish actually," he said. "I think the one thing the Virgin team will prove is that you can have a really good racing team, running very fast, within a very tight budget. There is no need to do massively expensive windtunnel testing, or all the other things that they do to get the extra second or two."

Although the VR-01 has had a troubled baptism, with hydraulic problems and a wing failure blighting early running, Branson is not unhappy with the state his team is in.

"We are tremendously excited," he said. "We love supporting the underdogs in every area that we are in. This is one of the new teams. The new teams eight or nine months ago were going to be given a few breaks here and there in order to give them a bit of a leg up - as it is they have been told that they have to come into the race with exactly the same rules as the teams that have been going for 20, 30 or 40 years.

"So it is going to be tough for them - as it is literally having to start from scratch. But that is what we at Virgin like - we like a challenge. We've got the best people in the world to work with and it is going to be very, very exciting."

He added: "By the start of the season I think the gap between the new teams and the old teams will be less. Give it a year or two - you cannot just build a new team from scratch and immediately start beating Ferrari that has spent £400 million on a car - whereas Virgin has spent less than £40 million.

"That is the budget that all the teams were meant to spend this year but then at the last minute changed the rules to spend the same kinds of monies that they have been spending for years. So, the budgets are a lot less but they are going to be tremendous cars. There will be a race among the new owners and then in time the new owners will start picking off some of the established teams."

When asked about his target for the year, he said: "If this year we can beat the other new teams that will be a great start. If we can take one or two of the established teams occasionally that will be fun, and then next year we will go a little bit better and start moving forward.

"Once the budgets for the established teams comes down to the £40 million that Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA have said they must come down to - then we will see a much more equal playing field."

shares
comments
Car much stronger this year - Hamilton

Previous article

Car much stronger this year - Hamilton

Next article

Q & A with Richard Branson

Q & A with Richard Branson
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Ferrari
Author Jonathan Noble
What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track Plus

What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track

Mercedes may find itself leading the drivers' and constructors' standings after Lewis Hamilton's victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but it is well-aware that it came against the odds, with Red Bull clearly ahead on pace. Here's what the Brackley team must do to avoid its crown slipping

Why Tsunoda can become Japan’s greatest F1 talent Plus

Why Tsunoda can become Japan’s greatest F1 talent

While Japan's fever for motor racing is well-documented, the country has yet to produce a Formula 1 superstar – but that could be about to change, says BEN EDWARDS

Formula 1
Apr 15, 2021
Why the demise of F1's hypocritical spending habit is cause for celebration Plus

Why the demise of F1's hypocritical spending habit is cause for celebration

For too long, F1's richest teams have justified being able to spend as much as they want because that's the way they've always conducted their business. STUART CODLING says that's no reason not to kick a bad habit

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate Plus

The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate

It's been a tough start to Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin F1 career, with a lack of pre-season testing mileage followed by an incident-packed Bahrain GP. But two key underlying factors mean a turnaround is not guaranteed

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition Plus

The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition

In 2017 new F1 technical regulations were supposed to add drama - and peg Mercedes back. STUART CODLING looks at the car which, while troubled, set the stage for the wide-bodied Formula 1 era

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return Plus

The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return

Three weeks is a long time in Formula 1, but in the reshaped start to the 2021 season the teams head to Imola to pick things up after the frenetic Bahrain opener. Here's what to look out for and the developments to follow at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Plus

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. BEN ANDERSON looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

Formula 1
Apr 12, 2021
The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Plus

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says NIGEL ROEBUCK

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021