Richard Branson has dropped a firm hint that the Virgin Group will not step up to become title sponsors of Brawn next year.
Virgin signed a sponsorship deal at the start of this season, with a view to expanding its involvement after during 2009 or for the start of next year. However, with Brawn's success having increased the asking price for a big deal, and Branson reluctant to spend more than he needs, the famous businessman reckons it unlikely his company will do more.
"We got in when it was very cheap and it's been great for us with global coverage, but I suspect next year the price will be astronomical and we may have to look somewhere else with a smaller team," Branson told BBC Radio 5 Live
"We at Virgin have most likely got the mileage we needed from it. Their value has gone from next to nothing to £50 million a year and we're delighted for them and we'll have had a fantastic year with them."
Branson was a guest of Red Bull Racing at the Monaco Grand Prix, and his company could link up with the Milton Keynes-based outfit instead.
Speaking about the threat of a breakaway, Branson said: "I think it would be a great pity [for them to split]. Both sides need to sit down and sense needs to prevail.
"There are good arguments on both sides. Certainly the cost base of Formula 1 needs to be reduced and most of the teams seem to agree to that. The difference between the two sides needs to be sorted out.
"If [the teams] really think it is in their interest [to split] and if they're allowed to do it then maybe, but my feeling is that grands prix have worked really well for 60 years and I think what really makes sense is for someone to adjudicate between the two sides.
"There's a lot of strong personalities in motorsport and I think that certain of those personalities on both sides need to know the art of compromise and sense needs to prevail.
"If I can do anything to help I'd certainly be interested in doing so."