After much speculation, culminating in an unfortunate confirmation earlier this month, the relationship between nascent Manor Grand Prix operation and the Virgin Group will be made official next week.

Much has been made of the partnership, beginning with Virgin boss Richard Branson revealing that the Brawn team he backed in 2009 had priced itself out of a continuation in 2010, and hinting that he may be prepared to remain involved in F1, but with a smaller operation.

Rumours that that 'smaller operation' was Manor began almost as soon as John Booth's ambitious squad earned its place on the 2010 grid in this summer's F1 expansion, but were never confirmed by either side - even when the official 2010 entry list issued by F1 governing body the FIA listed the entry as Virgin Racing.

Now, however, the first real confirmation of an agreement between Booth and Branson has emerged with Manor inviting the media to the 'global media launch of the worst-kept secret in motorsport'.

The event will take place in London next Tuesday morning (15 December), with fuller details of the team and its programme due to be revealed. Timo Glock remains Virgin's only confirmed driver, the German having jumped ship from the sinking Toyota team and seemingly avoided similar uncertainty by opting to join former FRenault and F3 powerhouse Manor.

Glock's team-mate remains unclear at present, although GP2 stalwart Lucas di Grassi has emerged as a favourite to join the line-up. With Booth having referred to a past Macau winner as Glock's likely partner, only IndyCar convert - and recent Mercedes test inclusion - Mike Conway, and former BAR, Honda and Jordan favourite Takuma Sato appear possible alternative candidates, despite the likes of Heikki Kovalainen and Adam Carroll both having been listed among initial possibilities.


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