Formula 1 sponsor Virgin has dismissed any suggestion that it could play a part in helping Nelson Piquet back to the sport – after rumors that the Brazilian could be on the shortlist for the new Manor Grand Prix team.
Virgin is set to take title sponsorship of Manor for the start of next season and comments made by team owner John Booth about Piquet were interpreted by some to suggest that the Brazilian could make an F1 comeback with the new team. However, Alex Tai, the Virgin board member responsible for group sponsorship who is set to become team boss when the lifestyle brand confirms its involvement with Manor, made it clear in Singapore on Friday that his company would never be associated with a driver who had broken the rules.
Tai said he was not in a position to confirm Virgin's future relationship with Manor – but said that Piquet could never be associated with the brand.
"We will make our plans known after the end of the season," said Tai. "I don't believe it is professional to in any way talk about our plans while we are sponsoring another team this year, namely Brawn – who happen to be leading both championships and who I personally believe will win the championships.
"However, what I can say, is that as a director of the main board of Virgin, I can assure you that we would never have anybody in a team sponsored by us who cheats."