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Honda: Branson speaks out

NEWS STORY
21/02/2009

As speculation over the future of Honda continues, Virgin boss Richard Branson has finally spoken out, revealing that his company could enter F1 but only if certain conditions are met.

"I love Grand Prix," he told BBC Radio Four. "However, I think there are faults there which would need to be rectified before we moved into Formula One.

"We'd need to be sure that Bernie Ecclestone is running it, that the teams can make ends meet and we'd need to be sure that he's on a path to turn Formula One in to a sport that is championing green technology. It's not very green at the moment. Those two provisos would be essential before Virgin entered the sport."

With F1 still lagging behind in terms of "green technology" and Ecclestone facing a fight with the manufacturers and teams for control of the sport, Branson's comments appear to end all hope of a bid for Honda at this time. However, refused to be drawn on this particular issue.

"To be perfectly frank, even if we were about to take over Honda, I'm sure they would have a clause which would say that I'm not allowed to talk about it," he said.

Asked about Ecclestone's comments, that he would welcome Virgin with open arms, Branson said: "I'm delighted he said it and it would be great fun, and subject to those two provisos maybe something might be able to get sorted out. Virgin often does things that other people don't do.

"We wouldn't want to enter the sport unless it could be profitable for us," he added. "It's obviously very well viewed in places like India and China and the Far East, South America, quite a lot of European countries and so with the Virgin brand expanding on a global basis it's certainly something that is attractive."

Finally, in what most will see as the sort of comment one gets when being turned down for a job, 'thanks for your interest in our company...', Branson added: "I very much hope that the Honda team survives and thrives and moves up the rankings quickly under a new brand.

So it appears the ball is back in Nick Fry's court, courtesy of the management buy-out.

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