Mike Stevens | Dec 16, 2009

SIR RICHARD BRANSON says his latest investment, Virgin Racing, is set to compete with the smallest budget in Formula 1 when the team makes it debut next season.

The newcomers held a launch to hail its arrival in the sport overnight, presenting drivers Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi to the media in addition to confirming its Virgin branding, which the team professed was F1’s worst kept secret.

Branson made a splash earlier this year when he inked a sponsorship deal with dual title winners Brawn GP, sparking his interest in F1.

While Brawn’s success subsequently priced Branson out, the world renowned entrepreneur leapt at the opportunity to partner Manor Grand Prix and become a naming rights sponsor.

Branson believes Virgin Racing’s low cost approach will place it in good stead as F1 moves towards reducing costs substantially.

“F1 is trying to bring the costs down of entry. This team will be the lowest budget team in F1,” he said.

“It will run under the £40 million a year that is set in F1, and all teams within two or three years are meant to get to that level.

“But money is not everything and we are determined to prove that through engineering prowess, great drivers and great affinity with the public we can do well.

“I think it is the only British F1 team left - so it is great to support another British team.”

Virgin Racing’s 2010 challenger has already completed basic FIA crash testing, and has been given the all clear for a February testing debut.

However, the team is set to break custom by refusing to complete aerodynamic testing in a wind tunnel before its car hits the track.

Technical Director Nick Wirth has been a leading proponent of Computational Fluid Dynamics technology, which he used to produce class winning prototypes in the American Le Mans Series.

Wirth said he is confident the technology has advanced sufficiently to omit the wind tunnel testing and associated excessive costs.

“We will continue our philosophy of major investment in cutting edge technologies to carry on innovating,” he said.

“Our group of companies has involvement in many areas both inside and outside motorsport and our philosophy of technology transfer will continue to benefit all of our existing and future clients.

“The fact that our Formula 1 project is fully on schedule speaks volumes for the motivation and capabilities of our entire workforce. We are all looking forward to seeing the car break cover for the first time on track in February.”

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