Part of a Press Release From the Virgin Group 12-15-09
Notting Hill, London
The Virgin Racing team was officially launched in London today, where it was confirmed that one of the sport's four new entrants, the LDC backed Manor Grand Prix, has teamed up with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin - to mount a serious challenge in one of the world's most prestigious sports - Formula 1
Virgin Racing is a new team for a new era of Formula 1. It combines the firepower of one of the most recognised, respected and exciting brands in the world with a racing team concept that looks to exploit and capitalise upon F1's new economic dawn and the challenges of resource restriction that is redefining the sport.
Virgin Racing also heralds a new breed of team ownership. Designer Nick Wirth returns to F1 after a decade, having enjoyed remarkable success in Indy Racing and Le Mans sports car development in the USA with his innovative and low-cost design approach. As Technical Director for Virgin Racing, Nick will apply the expertise, experience and resources of his progressive engineering group, Wirth Research, to the research, development, design and manufacture of F1's first all-digital car design - the Virgin-Cosworth VR-01. Based in the heart of the UK's motorsport valley in Bicester, Wirth Research has gained an international reputation for pioneering a purely CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) approach to car development, wholly designing, building and testing race cars in computer simulation without the need for expensive and resource-heavy wind tunnel testing.
Nick has joined forces with one of the very best names in national and international motor racing, John Booth, whose Manor Motorsport operation in the North of England achieved unrivalled Formula 3 success and played a major role in the development of several of today's greatest motor racing talents. Former F1 Champions Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton both graduated from the John Booth school of excellence. John brings 20 years of motor sports pedigree to the Virgin Racing team and in the role of Sporting Director, he will lead the 45-strong race team - a team that is lean and mean consistent with the sport's new resourcing limitations.
Alex Tai, formerly Director of Special Projects for the Virgin Group, becomes Team Principal for Virgin Racing. Virgin Racing intends to be different and innovative on all fronts. Not only will the car design and economics reflect the new era , the team and it's management intends to engage it's stakeholders differently too. All the sponsors will be in an unique position to best benefit from the scope and scale of Virgin's brand and associated companies. In addition the team will strive to emulate the values of the core Virgin brand and its many achievements on the global business stage: value for money, good quality, brilliant customer service, innovation, competitively challenging and fun. And last but most importantly -- the fans. Virgin Racing has serious on-track ambitions and an engaging marketing programme, set to roll out in 2010, will invite F1 fans along for a thrilling , close up and personal ride.
Etienne de Villiers, non-executive Chairman brings a wealth of business, media , marketing and brand experience as a result of his 15 years spent at the Walt Disney company and recently as chairman of BBC Worldwide. He also has considerable experience in the world of professional sport, serving as a director of Saracens Rugby, and SLEC, the former holder of F1's commercial rights. He was also President of the ATP World Tour, the body representing men's professional tennis. He said:
"Formula 1 is one of the greatest international sports franchises and offers great rewards to those that get it right. It is a remarkably challenging environment that pits the best against the best in an ever changing landscape. The new limitations and entrants makes it even more demanding but also more attractive .I am really confident that the mix of resources, experience, skills and values that Virgin Racing bring to the party will surprise a few and hopefully entertain and reward many"