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Branson undecided on whether to stay with Brawn

NEWS STORY
21/10/2009

Despite being linked with a stake in the new Manor team, Virgin boss Richard Branson admits that he has yet to decide whether to continue with Brawn GP.

Speaking to BBC's 5 Live, Branson said he was "absolutely delighted" to get involved with Brawn, which, in a fairytale season, rose from the ashes of Honda and claimed the drivers' and constructors' titles at the first attempt.

Brawn claims to have already secured a number of sponsors for 2010 and beyond while there is increasing speculation that Mercedes is to buy into the Brackley team, however, Branson remains undecided. "We will make a decision after Abu Dhabi," he said.

"We were absolutely delighted to get involved with them when they didn't have any money before the Melbourne race," he continued. "It enabled them to prove that they had a great car and great drivers and they've obviously gone on to fantastic things.

"It was the perfect relationship," he admitted. "Virgin loves to support an underdog but they are now one of the most expensive teams out there and certainly not underdogs any more.

"But we will make an announcement in the next month but at the moment we just want to celebrate a magnificent season with the Brawn team, Jenson and Rubens Barrichello, who did fantastically also."

Even Branson, who started out selling cut price records to shops in London and went on to build a multi-billion pound empire, admitted to being stunned by Brawn's success story.

"I don't think in our wildest dreams we thought this would happen," he said. "I knew they had a good car, as I happened to know one of the test drivers. But when I got on a plane to Melbourne with some Virgin stickers in my bag, having just shaken hands and given them some money, the last thing I expected was a first and second in the championship."

The Englishman also paid tribute to Honda, which, after years of trying to achieve the ultimate in motorsport, walked away from the sport only to see its successor take both titles at the first attempt just month later.

"I think one thing people have overlooked is the fact that Honda wrote out a cheque for 120m so the team didn't go bust," said Branson. "There are many people who would have just pulled out and saved that money and they have got no credit for that. If you turn the clock back 12 months then it was a horror story for the car industry and really good car makers like Honda and they had to make a tough decision. But they developed the car and they deserve some credit but I doubt they'll get a lot despite behaving in a very gentlemanly way."

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