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Virgin may rename Brawn, buy team equityUPDATE (GMM) After watching his Virgin logos speed to one-two victory at Albert Park, Sir Richard Branson hinted his next step could be into the world of formula one team ownership.
The British billionaire cut short a family skiing holiday this weekend to jet into Melbourne and announce a hastily-signed sponsorship deal with the new Brawn team.
Branson, 58, hinted the announcement was just the first phase of his new interest in the sport, and he told the BBC on Sunday that he is likely to make the next step in the very near future.
"At the moment we're just sponsors. I mean, one day, Virgin might own a team and name it after itself. We'll have talks," he said.
So fuelled has Branson's interest in the sport been by the Australian grand prix success, he decided against attending his own 'V Festival' rock concert in Sydney on Saturday night.
It is believed he also stayed in Melbourne on Sunday night - rather than fly to the Gold Coast for the next 'V' concert - to help Brawn celebrate its Virgin-branded victory.
"They've certainly got me addicted so it'd be a good time to sit me down and have a word about upping my interest," Branson smiled.
"I'm sure if Brawn GP keep plying me with champagne and putting gorgeous Virgin girls either side of me, you never know. But on a serious note they deserve supporting."
03/28/09 (GMM) Mere weeks after rising from Honda's ashes as 'Brawn GP', the Brackley based team could be set for yet another name change.
Following the eleventh-hour sponsorship deal with the Virgin brand, Sir Richard Branson in Melbourne admitted his company might take over the name of the Mercedes-powered team.
The British billionaire told selected journalists at Albert Park that Saturday's announcement was just the first part of the new Brawn collaboration.
"I think, even in the next three to four weeks, we would all like to see this develop into a more complete relationship. We will have to see," Branson said.
The first step - perhaps after next weekend's Malaysian grand prix - will be obtaining permission for a substantially new livery, after a few Virgin logos were hurriedly added to the white and yellow BGP001 car for Saturday's running.
Slightly beyond that, applications for a name change - requiring the agreement of all the teams - are likely, and it is rumored that some equity may also change hands.
Asked about the possibility of the 'Brawn' team becoming 'Virgin', Branson said: "It is certainly possible.
"I don't think the team want to have the name not promoting anything, everybody knows it has a great engineer (Ross Brawn) so there is not the need for it to be named after an engineer.
"That (the name) may well change, but we have to see what happens," said Branson, who may attend a few more races this season.
In the past, Virgin has been courted vigorously by F1 figures including Adrian Reynard and Eddie Jordan, so Branson was visibly delighted with his timing when Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello dominated qualifying on Saturday.
"I'm a lucky bastard!" he grinned in conversation with the British broadcaster BBC.
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