Brawn set to lose Virgin tag

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The Independent Online

Ross Brawn does not expect his team's cars to carry the sponsorship of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group next season.

Virgin agreed to sponsor the team just before the season began in March, just weeks after Brawn had secured their survival in the wake of Honda's decision to pull out of the sport.

The decision paid off as Jenson Button took the drivers' championship, with his efforts and those of team-mate Rubens Barrichello also enough for Brawn to take the constructors' title.

But team principal Brawn has conceded that he does not expect the Virgin partnership to continue as his all-conquering team look to repeat their success in 2010.

"We had a great year with Virgin but they have different ambitions next year so it's unlikely you will see their name on the car next year," he said.

"They had the faith or good luck to be with us from the start and won a championship with us but it doesn't look like they will continue."

Brawn also hinted that a link-up with engine manufacturers Mercedes-Benz was not far away from being finalised.

The German car giants have been linked with taking a 75% stake in the Brackley-based team which could provide the financial backing required to again see off Ferrari and McLaren.

"Mercedes is a very important part of our team and without the engine we would not have won the championship," said Brawn.

"It was the best engine in Formula One and we have formed a great partnership together.

"We are looking at all opportunities for the future but it is too early to announce anything yet.

"But it is an amazing contrast we have been through as a team this year.

"We were in the depths of despair last winter when we didn't know if we would have a team at all and then to win the World Championships was amazing.

"It has been an incredible journey but now we must focus on next year."

Brawn revealed the team have been working hard in order to ensure their continued progress next season.

"We are in good shape for next year," he added.

"We were fortunate to get a big lead early on and that allowed us to start on next year's car early.

"We could consolidate and concentrate on finishing races and picking up the points to wrap up the title and our design team have been working flat out on the 2010 car since the summer."