Sir Richard Branson has hit back at Ferrari over its criticism of the newcomers to the grid for the 2010 F1 season.

A strongly worded statement from the Scuderia last week hit out at the new teams on the grid, insisting that two - Virgin Racing and Lotus - would 'limp' into the new season, Campos Racing was being 'pushed into the ring by an invisible hand' and that 'missing persons' would need a call to locate USF1.

Paying a visit to Barcelona for the final pre-season test for the Virgin Racing team, Branson hit back at the comments, insisting it was 'sad' to see the Italian team issue the statement on what it called Max Mosley's 'holy war' and adding that Virgin would show you can compete in F1 on a budget.

"I think that it's a bit sad to see Ferrari carrying on with those kinds of words," he was quoted in The Times. "Formula One needs new teams. Ferrari already won the battle to make sure that new teams are shackled. I mean we have built a new car from scratch and are going to have exactly the same practice time as Brawn, Ferrari or any of the other teams who have had years and years and years to get it right. But we're not complaining about it - we're happy to go along with it.

"I think it was a pity that they [Ferrari] were resistant to the budget cap and I think it is foolish actually. I think the one thing the Virgin team will prove is that you can have a really good racing team, running very fast, within a very tight budget.

"We will make them look better for a year or two until we catch them up. But ultimately I think that new teams will give Ferrari a run for their money. And I think it will make the sport more exciting, particularly as budgets come down to more realistic levels."

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