Richard Branson believes Virgin Racing can make a success of Formula 1 through talent rather than its checkbook – after revealing that the team will run with the lowest budget of any in 2010.
Branson's Virgin Group unveiled its ambitious plans for next year at a launch in London on Tuesday, and its chief made it clear that he felt his company was perfectly placed to reap the benefits of a new lower-cost F1.
"F1 is trying to bring the costs down of entry," said Branson, speaking on stage. "This team will be the lowest budget team in F1. It will run under the £40 million ($66m) 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 CEO and team principal Alex Tai saw no reason why his team's small budget would hinder its plans for the future.
"We're fully funded for next year," he explained. "We think it is right to be competing on a level playing field. We have permission that is given to us, the Virgin Brand, to do something different. We think it is abhorrent to be spending $400 million on building two cars. We believe it is important not to compete with the checkbook but to compete with the ingenuity that we have with Nick [Wirth], and the team spirit and experience we have with John [Booth].
"I am immensely proud of this team and we absolutely have our sights set on success. We believe that what the FIA and F1 have done in creating a level playing field is exactly the right environment for Virgin Racing to thrive in. Our sponsors have understood that, they are backing us to succeed and what we have to do now is to go out there and deliver."