Ferrari say they will not stand in way of former world champion’s return to Formula One.
|Gunning for glory: Glock [GALLO/GETTY]|
Virgin Racing has been unveiled as the latest new Formula One team on the grid – with owner Richard Branson vowing a budget of less than $65 million.
Branson, who backed the victorious Brawn GP team last year, said he would head the smallest spenders in Grand Prix as he aimed to build a winning name from scratch.
The now-departed Toyota alone were estimated to have spent $418.5 million in 2006.
Former test driver Lucas Di Grassi becomes the newest driver in F1 after joining Timo Glock at the unveiling in London on Tuesday.
Virgin, which has secured the title sponsorship of the Manor team, joins four other new outfits on the grid for the 2010 season – Lotus, USF1, Campos and Sauber.
German Glock, the former Toyota driver, had already announced he was joining the team, but official confirmation of Di Grassi’s F1 debut was made at the London launch.
“Timo and I are here together to build a team,” said Brazilian Di Grassi, who has spent two seasons in GP2 and as a test and reserve driver with Renault.
“We’re not working as separate individuals, but as a whole group, working as hard as we can to push the team forward.”
Using the slogan ‘A new team for a new era’, Virgin aims to challenge on the newly expanded 13-team grid with a budget below the optional cap of $65 million.
David and Goliath
“Last year with Brawn they started the season as a David and it ended it as a Goliath,” Branson said after arriving on stage a dozen with electric guitarists creating a sound akin to a Formula One engine.
“So we searched around for another great team, another David team, we have one and we will see how it goes.
“The new era is seeing the costs of entry come down.
“This team will be the lowest-budget team in Formula One. It will run under the 40 million pounds per year that was being set by Formula One.”
On Monday, the private equity arm of Britain’s part state-owned Lloyds Banking Group announced it had bought a stake in the team reportedly worth about $16.2 million.
“Money’s not everything,” Branson said.
“They are determined to prove that via engineering prowess, great drivers and a great affinity with the public they can do well.”