Virgin Racing boss John Booth has compared himself to a football manager after being told that he needs to justify Marussia Motors' investment with results in the next couple of seasons.
The bluff Yorkshireman guided Virgin through its maiden season, having initially been granted a grid slot as Manor Grand Prix, and welcomed Nikolay Fomenko's decision to increase Marussia's involvement from mere sponsor to 'significant investor' following this week's announcement of a multi-million dollar deal that gives it naming rights for at least four years. However, he admitted that the pressure was now on to ensure that the team is more competitive from 2011 onwards.
"There's no managerial changes for two years at least, so we get a good crack at it, and it's not a plot to get rid of me, but the team principal is like a football manager – he has to get results," the 54-year old, who found great success with his Manor team in F3, told the local Yorkshire Post
"We need financial support like this to help us go forward. Without funding we cannot compete, so this is excellent news for the team and has given everyone a lift. Marussia have been supporting us from the launch [in December 2009] and they've seen enough to convince them to increase their involvement.
"I am extremely proud of what we have achieved with Virgin Racing in what is really only 16 months. I am delighted that the significant efforts have been recognised and have attracted the commitment of Marussia Motors, which will enable us to move forward and deliver against our five-year target for success."
Marussia's investment - the exact amount of which has not been revealed by either party - has proven extra timely for Virgin, which missed out on the financial reward a top ten place in the constructors' championship after failing to improve on rival Lotus Racing's best result of twelfth. Despite the prospect of a Russian Grand Prix on the horizon, however, Booth also insisted that there was no plan to move the team away from its UK base.
"Absolutely we're staying in Yorkshire," he insisted, "This is a significant investment, not a takeover, and one that will improve our financial firepower, [but] the team and its head office will continue to be located in its purpose-built facility in Dinnington. The board structure stays pretty much the same and the management stays the same. A takeover is not what they are looking for - they are looking to help the team grow, and it makes us secure for four years."
Booth recently confirmed to the same newspaper that Timo Glock would be staying on for a second season at Virgin - despite speculation that the German had a get-out clause that could see him jump ship midway through his contract - but admitted that no decision had yet been taken on a second driver.
Current number two Lucas di Grassi is rumoured to be looking for a reserve driver role with a bigger team - and may not have been retained after an erratic debut season - but Marussia's involvement does not necessarily mean that a Russian driver will be brought on board. Although Vitaly Petrov's position at Renault remains in question, and Mikhail Aleshin has staked his claim by taking the World Series by Renault championship, Booth was giving nothing away, especially with Belgium's Jerome d'Ambrosio having run in Friday practice at four of the last five grands prix.
"We have Petrov in F1 and Mikhail Aleshin in World Series, so Russian drivers are going from strength to strength," Booth admitted, "They have come on leaps and bounds over the last five years and I'm sure we'll see more in F1 in the future, but there is nothing on the horizon for a Russian driver at the moment."