Bernie Ecclestone's constant sniping and criticism of the F1 2010 newcomers has been 'destabilising' and 'can do great damage', John Booth has argued - claiming that Virgin Racing is if anything 'further ahead' than it had anticipated being at this stage during its maiden campaign of competition in the top flight.

Earlier on in the year, Ecclestone professed his opinion on a number of separate occasions that not all of the new teams - Virgin, Lotus and Hispania (HRT) - would make it to the end of the campaign, even going so far as to predict that two of the three might drop out along the way due to financial woes.

Then last month, the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive went even further by claiming that the two teams to which he had been referring - ostensibly Hispania and Virgin - 'really shouldn't be there' and that he would be far from unhappy were the grid to recede to just 20 cars once more. Not helpful, Booth asserts.

"I was not particularly pleased, because comments like that for a team like ours can do great damage," Virgin's team principal told motorsport-total.com, describing the remarks as 'destabilising' and echoing the contention of USF1 co-founder Peter Windsor, who upon the collapse of the American effort's bid to join the fray this season had lambasted Ecclestone's persistent negativity for scaring potential sponsors away. "It is difficult for us at the moment, as it is for other teams, and for all the new teams."

Booth went on to stress that most of Virgin's backers are committed for the long-term, and brushed aside notions that with a high-profile figurehead like ultra-successful entrepreneur Richard Branson behind the team, the Dinnington and Bicester-based operation should really be performing rather better to do justice to the brand's well-established global reputation.

"If you look at what we have built up so far, it's not all bad," urged the Yorkshireman. "In F1 there have been probably 30 or 40 new teams, some of which never qualified for a race - but we are there at the start of every race and, step-by-step, we are getting closer. We are where we expected we would be, and maybe even a bit further ahead than that."

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