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Virgin Racing confirm Manor takeover

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Virgin launch Formula One team
  • Manor GP have been officially rebranded Virgin Racing ahead of the 2010 F1 season
  • The takeover was confirmed by Virgin boss Richard Branson at a press conference in London
  • Italian Lucas di Grassi will partner Germany's Timo Glock as the team's second driver

(CNN) -- Sir Richard Branson's love of Formula One has officially resulted in one of the world's richest men throwing the full weight of his Virgin brand behind one of the sport's new teams.

Manor GP, one of four new outfits who will help make up an expanded 13-team Formula One grid for next season, have been rebranded Virgin Racing thanks to a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with Branson.

Tycoon Branson confirmed one of F1's worst-kept secrets at a press conference in London, on Tuesday

Explaining his latest venture, Branson told reporters: "Our first year in F1 (with Brawn GP) was tremendous for the Virgin brand, so why not go in again with a new team from scratch?

"If you look at the history of Virgin we've loved supporting technical breakthroughs and great engineers, and there's something like 120 engineers working away on this project."

"If you look at the history of Virgin we've loved supporting technical breakthroughs and great engineers.
--Richard Branson

Branson confirmed Virgin Racing will operate on the smallest budget of any of the new teams, under $65m.

Team chief John Booth confirmed he hopes the car will be ready for its first test at the end of January.

"The budget restrictions have allowed us to get involved in F1 and at the moment I'm on cloud nine. But we're the new kids on the block and we need to earn our place on the grid."

Tuesday's announcement also revealed that Italian Lucas di Grassi will partner Timo Glock after two seasons in GP2 and as test and reserve driver with Renault.

"Timo and I are here together to build a team," said di Grassi. "We're not working as separate individuals, but as a whole group, working as hard as we can to push the team forward."

German Glock, who spent the previous two years with Toyota but missed the last two races of the season with a leg injury after a crash in the Japan GP, added: "How far we go is difficult to say at the moment.

"But I think the potential is there. When I met the team I was very impressed and I know this is the right way for me to go."