Virgin signs racer di Grassi, Parente as reserve

(GMM) Virgin Racing was launched in London on Tuesday.

The takeover of the new Manor team by Sir Richard Branson's famous brand had been one of the worst kept secrets in F1, but also strongly rumored was the signing of Lucas di Grassi to be Timo Glock's teammate.

British billionaire Branson was present at the Notting Hill event, as he and his colleagues wore black leather jackets bearing the team's new 'VR' logo.

Portuguese pay-driver Alvaro Parente, previously linked with Campos, was announced as the reserve driver, and 20-year-old Brazilian GP2 driver Luiz Razia is a tester.

Virgin Racing said it will operate with a mere 40m pounds sterling budget, with Virgin Galactic's Alex Tai as team principal and Manor's John Booth the sporting director.

The car, to be called VR-01 and tested for the first time in February, has been penned by Simtek, Benetton, Indycar and Le Mans designer Nick Wirth, without the aid of a wind tunnel.

It has already passed most of the mandatory FIA crash tests, Virgin revealed.

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