Di Grassi unveiled as Virgin F1 driver from 2010
Virgin Racing will operate with the lowest budget in Formula One, chairman Richard Branson said Tuesday at the official unveiling of the new team and drivers Lucas Di Grassi and Timo Glock.
Virgin, which has secured the title sponsorship of the Manor team, joins four other new outfits on the grid for the 2010 season - Lotus, USF1, Campos and Sauber.
Glock, the former Toyota driver, had already announced he was joining the team, but official confirmation of Di Grassi's F1 debut was made at the London launch.
``Timo and I are here together to build a team,'' said Di Grassi, who has spent two seasons in GP2 and as a test and reserve driver with Renault. ``We're not working as separate individuals, but as a whole group, working as hard as we can to push the team forward.''
Branson, whose Virgin group backed Brawn GP in its triumphant debut season last year, now wants to build a successful team from scratch.
Using the slogan ``A new team for a new era,'' Virgin aims to challenge on the newly expanded 13-team grid with a budget of just $65 million.
``Last year with Brawn they started the season as a David and it ended it as a Goliath,'' Branson said after arriving on stage a dozen with electric guitarists creating a sound akin to a Formula One engine. ``So we searched around for another great team, another David team, we have one and we will see how it goes. The new era is seeing the costs of entry come down.
``This team will be the lowest-budget team in Formula One.''
On Monday, the private equity arm of Britain's part state-owned Lloyds Banking Group announced it had bought a stake in the team reportedly worth about $16.2 million.
``Money's not everything,'' Branson said. ``They are determined to prove that via engineering prowess, great drivers and a great affinity with the public they can do well.''