Sir Richard Branson has been quick to deny speculation that his Virgin empire Sir Richard Branson could be set to pull out of F1, in the wake of Bernie Ecclestone’s comments that one of the three rookie teams – widely believed to be Hispania Racing – might not see out the 2010 season.

Both HRT bosses Jose Ramon Carabante and Colin Kolles have quickly moved to reject such speculation.

The multi-billionaire Branson expressed surprise at Bernie’s comments and told UK newspaper the Daily Mail that the Virgin Racing team has sponsors on board and is committed “all the way to the end of the season, and hopefully for many seasons yet".

His empire, however, is the sole naming rights sponsor of the rookie team managed by Manor Motorsport, and the VR-01 has proved to be both slow and very unreliable.

One wonders how much Branson is enjoying back-of-the-grid anonymity in contrast to the publicity he was garnering when a small-cost sponsor of the championship-winning Brawn outfit in 2009?

Either way, Sir Richard is keeping quiet on that one! "If they (the team) continue the kind of progress we’ve made to date, we will be delighted and will continue to support it, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t,” he added.

"We went into this with our eyes open and we plan to stick with it as long as they get other sponsors on board, which they are managing to do."

[Original image via AUTOSPORT]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.