As predicted yesterday, Virgin Racing has announced that it has sold major shareholding in its team to Russian supercar company Marussia Motors.
The Marussia group is headed up by racing driver and Top Gear Russia co-presenter Nikolai Fomenko, and it is believed that the buy-in will not result in any significant restructuring of the outfit.
“Virgin is delighted to have secured a partner which shares our vision and spirit for challenging the establishment and we look forward to working together to move the team up the F1 grid,” said Virgin chief Sir Richard Branson.
The deal was reportedly inked in London last weekend, and the outfit will be known as ‘Marussia Virgin Racing’ next year, with the 2011 car to be launched in Moscow.
The decision to keep the Virgin branding in the name – as claimed by Marussia co-investor Andrey Cheglakov – is to “gain better recognition for the team itself”.
It is believed that Marussia has bought the stake previously held in the team by Lloyds Bank.
The move is one of a sequence that has seen a Russian presence in Formula 1 that was negligible just a year ago.
Vitaly Petrov became the first Russian driver to race in F1, and the deal for Russia to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix from 2014 onwards in the resort city of Sochi was also inked this year.
Formenko additionally expressed an interest in securing Petrov’s services in the future.