Virgin boss Richard Branson says he feels the Virgin Racing F1 team can 'go all the way' after the new outfit was officially launched in London.
Already regarded as the worst kept secret in the sport – especially after the FIA entry list revealed Manor GP was to run under the Virgin Racing banner – the London event marked the official launch of the team, with Lucas di Grassi being confirmed as team-mate to Timo Glock.
Virgin's decision to take on title sponsorship with the Manor team comes on the back of a stunning partnership with Brawn GP in 2009, when a last minute deal saw Virgin branding appear on the car that carried Jenson Button to the championship crown.
While he admits that it will take time to match that level of success with the new venture, Branson insisted that he was confident that the team assembled can go all the way in F1.
“We [Virgin] have had a fantastic first year in Formula 1 and it was incredible to be sponsoring a team that fought so hard to win both championships,” he said. “We are huge fans of the sport and we spent a lot of time exploring all the options for a longer-term involvement.
“Over the last four decades Virgin has invested in and supported incredible engineering minds who have literally been pushing the technological boundaries of what man previously believed was possible: boats capable of smashing world records, balloons that captured the imagination of millions around the globe, a plane built purely from carbon composite that flew around the world not once, but 2.5 times without refueling, and with Virgin Galactic we are investing in technology that will literally push the boundaries off our planet! Virgin Racing will be no different.
“We knew there was an extremely successful designer out there who could bring something different to the sport with his all-digital approach to designing racing cars. So we thought 'why not back a new British team?' I believe that with the right bunch of people you can achieve anything. It might take a while to get there, but I believe with this team of people on board, Virgin Racing can go all the way.”