Virgin reach for the stars with Manor
Branson's group take over Formula One's new kids on the grid with space tourism executive at the controls
Sunday 27 September 2009
Richard Branson's Virgin group have taken control of the new Manor team joining Formula One next year, according to official company filings.
The news has been confirmed in a document appointing Virgin board member and former pilot Alex Tai as Manor's chief executive. He is joined by Manor's founder, John Booth, who has been named as the team's race engineer, and on Thursday Nick Wirth, the former F1 team principal, was appointed as Manor's technical director.
Virgin sponsor F1's championship leaders, Brawn GP, and earlier this year it was rumoured that the company wanted to buy a stake in the team, although both sides allegedly failed to agree on a price. Virgin then reportedly took a 20 per cent stake in Manor, but there has been no public confirmation of their involvement until now.
As company directors represent shareholders, this is clear confirmation of Virgin's investment in the team. It is believed that this cannot be officially announced due to clauses in the company's sponsorship agreement with Brawn.
Tai is a long-serving Virgin executive and one of Branson's close confidants. He trained as a pilot in the RAF before flying for Virgin Atlantic. Rising through the ranks, Tai became vice-president of Virgin Galactic, the company's division that plans to launch tourists into space from 2011. Following Virgin's last-minute sponsorship of Brawn just before the start of this season, Tai took on the task of developing the company's links with F1.
Since they signed with Brawn when the team were unproven, Virgin are believed to have got an extremely good deal, with reports suggesting they are paying around $5 million for this season compared to the $20m spent by sponsors of other teams.
Virgin have come under fire for proposing to introduce their clean fuel into F1 – a move which would be likely to alienate the existing oil suppliers, who invest a total of around $170m in the sport annually. Virgin's involvement with Manor gives them a more direct route to negotiating with the other teams. But it remains to be seen whether this will make the clean fuel proposal any more appealing.
The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies from spine injury after doing somersault celebration
Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Why Isco will provide just as great a threat at Anfield as the injured Gareth Bale would have
Angel Di Maria injury: Manchester United sweat over fitness of record signing as he is in danger of missing Chelsea clash
West Brom vs Manchester United player ratings: Saido Berahino scores highest, whilst Marcos Rojo scores lowest
Video: Boxer Vido Loncar brutally assaults referee following defeat
- 1 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 2 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 3 Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world