Ross Brawn has admitted that it is unlikely that Richard Branson's Virgin Group will remain involved with the F1 champions again next season.
Branson agreed a last minute deal with the team on the eve of the Australian Grand Prix
and it proved to be an inspired move, as Jenson Button
and Rubens Barrichello
took a 1-2 finish in the first race for the team.
With Virgin branding adorning the two cars, Button went on to secure the drivers' crown while Brawn GP
became constructors' champions after rising from the ashes of Honda.
For some time however, rumours have persisted that the Virgin backing wouldn't continue beyond the current season, with Brawn's value having rising substantially and Branson himself admitting that his company 'likes to back the underdog'.
A deal with newcomers Manor is believed to be on the cards, and Brawn admitted it was unlikely that the deal with his team would be continuing. The Brackley-based outfit looks increasingly likely to be bought into by current engine partner Mercedes-Benz in 2010, possibly with sponsorship from Mobil as part of the deal.
“We had a great year with Virgin, but they have different ambitions next year so it's unlikely you will their name on the car,” Brawn was quoted by the Daily Telegraph
. “They had the faith or good luck to be with us from the start and won a championship with us, but it doesn't look like they will continue.”
Virgin had previously stated it would announce its plans for 2010 once the 2009 season had drawn to a close in Abu Dhabi, although such an announcement has yet to be made.