Virgin mogul Richard Branson says there is "no reason" why he should not continue to support Virgin Racing over the long haul, despite the troubles the start-up F1 team has faced earlier in the season.
Following reliability dramas and the team's failure to fit a fuel tank big enough to finish some races, questions had emerged about whether Branson would lose his interest in the squad. But with Virgin Racing having delivered its first two-car finish in Spain, and Branson encouraged by the fact the team continues to sign new sponsors, he is upbeat about his continued involvement.
"If they continue the kind of progress we've made to date, we will be delighted and will continue to support it, and there's no reason why it shouldn't," said Branson in Monaco on Saturday.
"There will be technical problems, but even the teams who are spending £300 million ($436m) on their cars have technical problems. We went into this with our eyes open and we plan to stick with it as long as they get other sponsors on board as well, which they are managing to do."
Branson still thinks he made the right choice in opting to put his name on to the new outfit, rather than continue a straight sponsorship deal with Brawn GP.
"It is just as much fun being the new boy on the block as being out and winning," he claimed. "It is a different kind of experience. If we had stuck with Brawn for another year we would have been $50 million worse off and then not winning, so only one team can win.
"Supporting a team and building a new team from scratch is very exciting, and you get different kinds of excitement. It was incredibly pleasing to see both cars finish last week, and if you look at the history of this sport to get two cars to the finish after four or five races is pretty good going. So a challenging start, but just as exciting."
Branson also dismissed the suggestion that Bernie Ecclestone was referring to Virgin when he said one of the new teams might not finish the season.
"I'm surprised Bernie has said that," said Branson. "He might know something about the other teams that I don't. But this Virgin will go all the way to the end of the season, and hopefully for many seasons yet."