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Branson on F1 racing budget

Billionaire Richard Branson will operate Virgin Racing next year in the Formula One and wil be left to work with the lowest budget out of all teams.

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The news came at the official unveiling of the new team and drivers Lucas Di Grassi and Timo Glock.

Tight budget

Under the slogan “A new team for a new era,” Virgin aims to challenge on the newly expanded 13-team grid with a budget of just STG40 million ($A71 million).

Virgin, which has secured the title sponsorship of the Manor team, joins four other new outfits on the grid for the 2010 season – Lotus, USF1, Campos and Sauber.

“The new era is seeing the costs of entry come down – this team will be the lowest-budget team in Formula One,” Branson said.

Money’s not everything

“Money’s not everything. They are determined to prove that via engineering prowess, great drivers and a great affinity with the public they can do well.”

Financial details of Virgin’s investment weren’t disclosed and Branson said his group’s main input would be providing use of a brand that is also attached to planes, trains and space travel.

The ten backers already signed up have funded the debut season.

History repeating

Branson, whose Virgin group backed Brawn GP in its debut season last year, accepts history won’t repeat with a double-championship winning success.

“But we have every chance of doing respectably well. This is the last 100 per cent owned British team and I think if Virgin hadn’t got involved I don’t think (Manor) would have happened.”

The launch epitomised the Virgin brand, with Branson arriving on stage at the chic Notting Hill venue with a dozen electric guitarists creating a sound akin to an F1 engine.

Di Grassi confirmed

He was joined by executives, including team principal Alex Tai, and the drivers. Glock, the former Toyota driver, had already announced he was joining the team, but official confirmation of Di Grassi’s F1 debut was made at the event.

Alvaro Parente and Luiz Razia will be test drivers.

Former Benetton F1 designer and Simtek team owner Nick Wirth is leading the technical operation, while Manor founder John Booth is the sporting director.