As was predicted, Manor Grand Prix has teamed up with Richard Branson’s Virgin to form Virgin Racing. The mix of a world-renowned brand and the technical vessel that is Manor GP have announced their new partnership and will field two cars piloted by German former Toyota driver Timo Glock and newcomer Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi.
The teams announcement is big news for Branson who sponsored Brawn GP last year:
â€œWe have had a fantastic first year in Formula 1 and it was incredible to be sponsoring a team that fought so hard to win both championships. We are huge fans of the sport and we spent a lot of time exploring all the options for a longer-term involvement.
â€œWe knew there was an extremely successful designer out there who could bring something different to the sport with his all-digital approach to designing racing cars. So we thought â€˜why not back a new British team?â€™ I believe that with the right bunch of people you can achieve anything. It might take a while to get there, but I believe with this team of people on board, Virgin Racing can go all the way.â€
Also announced today were some of the key players in Virgin Racing stable. Veteran car designer Nick Wirth, Virgin Groups Alex Tai and former SLEC director Etienne de Villiers.
Wirth has always been at the helm of the Manor GP program and his car design and engineering knowledge is something Branson was keen to support. Wirth said:
â€œThis is an incredible day for everyone involved with Virgin Racing. The past year has been something of a rollercoaster ride as we first conceived the idea of entering Formula 1 and then navigated the route to our launch today in 12 very busy but rewarding months. I am immensely proud to be part of a team that isnâ€™t simply â€˜making it to the gridâ€™, but which has surpassed even our wildest expectations – technically, in our racing operation and also commercially.
â€œSo here we are, a fully fledged Formula 1 team with our first car well underway. Our crash testing performance has been exemplary and we are progressing very much on plan towards the roll-out of the VR-01 in February. We have a fantastic driver line-up in Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi and weâ€™re delighted to welcome Alvaro Parente in the role of Test and Reserve driver. Everything has really come together for us and I for one cannot wait to see what this incredible team of people can achieve together as Virgin Racing.â€
The marriage of the ultimate branding model of Virgin and the long-standing engineering capabilities of Wirth Research should make for an interesting cobination. An all-British team supported by one of the premier British brands should provide some serious opportunities for marketing and global brand recognition.
The appointment of Glock as the lead driver is a good one in our estimation and while Di Grassi is new, he comes to the team highly rated. Virgin Racing will no doubt be a team to watch as the stage is being set for the battle of the new teams.
On a personal note, the combination of Sir Richard Branson, Nick Wirth, Timo Glock and Lucas Di Grassi is very exciting and we at F1B are elated by the news and look forward to yet another terrific British team with all the right reason for being in F1. That sentiment coupled with all the right people should be a bright future for the team.