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Branson confirms Brawn deal in Aus
Sir Richard Branson
(GMM)  Shortly before Saturday morning practice, Sir Richard Branson announced the Virgin brand's "substantial sponsorship" of the Brawn team.

The flamboyant British billionaire had cut short a skiing holiday to fly to Melbourne for the announcement.

He admitted that the BGP001 car's blank livery is to be mainly unchanged at Albert Park, but said the single seater is "unlikely to stay white" once the cars can be branded to reflect his investment.

There will be some Virgin branding on the car for qualifying and the race, however.

"We did this deal four hours before I got on a flight to come here, so unfortunately I was unable to get enough paint on-board," he joked to reporters at the circuit after the announcement.

Branson said the deal had cost Virgin less than it would have prior to the global recession.

He also told reporters he hopes formula one will begin using fully clean fuels within 12 months.

Press Release

Brawn GP is delighted to confirm that the team has agreed a partnership agreement with Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Group on the team's debut race weekend at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The partnership brings together the world championship winning experience of Ross Brawn and the technical expertise of the Brawn GP team with the marketing and business skills of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group.

This is Virgin's first foray into the world of Formula One and the first step in what is anticipated to be a broader relationship between the two.

The Brawn GP team's BGP 001 car will take to the track at Albert Park later this afternoon in qualifying for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix featuring Virgin branding.

Ross Brawn, Team Principal of Brawn GP commented; "On behalf of the Brawn GP team, we are delighted to have signed a partnership agreement with Sir Richard and Virgin in Melbourne today. An exciting debut race weekend for our team has become even more important as we have secured our second commercial agreement of the season. We look forward to working closely with the Virgin Group and sharing our on-track successes."

Sir Richard Branson said; "I have always said I would love for Virgin to be involved in Formula One and I am thrilled that we will be entering this fantastic sport with people as skilled as Ross Brawn and the Brawn GP team. Over the years Virgin has had the great honor of partnering with technical geniuses and I truly believe that Ross Brawn is to F1 what Burt Ratan is to space travel with Virgin Galactic. We are confident that the Virgin BGP 001 car driven by Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello will go from strength to strength this season and we look forward to a great future working with the Brawn GP team."

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