New team challenge inspired Branson

Sir Richard Branson says he formed Virgin Racing because he was attracted by the challenges of building a new Formula 1 team from scratch, rather than continuing to fund an established success story

New team challenge inspired Branson

The British entrepreneur, who has built a fortune out of taking a pioneering approach to his business strategies, sponsored the double-championship winning Brawn team in 2009. But Branson, who has put the might of his Virgin Group behind Manor's plans to enter F1 with a car designed by Nick Wirth, said he wanted to be in on a project from the beginning.

"The temptation might have been to write a big cheque to Brawn and stick with it for another season," said Branson. "But when a team's won, you can't really do any better than winning.

"So we thought it was better to look for a new team and support that."

Branson is not expecting the same instant success from Virgin Racing that he experienced with Brawn in Melbourne, back in March, and says that it will take time to establish the foundations of a brand new F1 team.

"We're not expecting the same sort of good fortune that we had last year," he said. "We fully accept that we're going to have to build the team over the coming years. But it's going to be exciting to try and do that.

"The spaceship company that Alex Tae (Virgin Racing's CEO and Team Principal) has been involved with was very much a case of many years building and building. And I suspect the same will apply here.

"(Technical director) Nick Wirth and the people he's got around him are brilliant. Because Nick's there, he's attracted engineers from Brawn, from Red Bull, from almost all the other teams, and he's got a really great group of people.

"To get Timo Glock, who actually turned down quite a lot of money and turned down tried and tested cars, that was a tremendous endorsement."

Branson says his new venture is a long-term project, but expects the team to be able to fund itself through alternative sponsorship agreements when it becomes established in the sport.

The Virgin Group unveiled its plans for 2010 in London earlier this month, after Branson agreed to fund and rebrand Manor Grand Prix - one of the three new teams to gain an entry to F1 next year - and while Branson insists that he wants to remain a permanent part of the management structure, he does not intend to bankroll the outfit indefinitely.

"It's a three season deal," he said, "but when I say 'forever', they've got to attract enough sponsorship money to keep it going year after year, but I think because they're working within the £40 million budget, the chances are that they should be able to do that.

"I will help and be wheeled in when I'm needed, and will enjoy it and be involved, and be supportive of the drivers," he added. "I'll go to a number of the races and help get the motor racing team on the map on a global basis, which helps the sponsors, and have some fun in the process."

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