Branson wants clean and cheap racing

Virgin boss Richard Branson has discussed what he would like to see in Formula 1 racing if his company were to become involved.

However he refrained from clarifying whether or not he was in discussions to take over the Honda F1 team:

If we were in discussions I wouldn’t be allowed to say it because there would be some kind of clause which would prohibit me talking about it.

I love Grands Prix. I think if Bernie Ecclestone can make it more cost effective for the likes of Virgin brand to come in to that sport and if he can champion clean motor car racing – which is possible to do by making sure that all the cars run on clean fuel – then at some stage we might be interested in getting involved.

See the full interview here.

Thanks to Loki for the tip!

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33 comments on Branson wants clean and cheap racing

  1. He looks caught off guard in the interview!

  2. Arthur954 said on 21st February 2009, 13:04

    The “clean fuel” idea seems like an inexpensive way of promoting green
    An interesting idea to investigate – a good thought by Mr. Branston

  3. Adrian said on 21st February 2009, 13:16

    Now it seems to me that the best place to change F1 from would be inside the sport. With a voice as part of FOTA Branson could be the champion of cheap and clean F1. Outside of it he may as well be whistling into the wind…

    Still he didn’t deny that talks are ongoing, in fact he gave what I would class as the closest thing to a yes that we could expect.

    It’s like the old “Does the government have xxx top secret project?” “I can’t tell you cause it’s classified…” (If it didn’t exist it wouldn’t be classified – ergo if he wasn’t in talks there would be no gag clause!!)

    It’s going to be a long week until we find out what’s happening..!!

  4. Robert McKay said on 21st February 2009, 15:00

    It’s not overly helpful though for Branson in essence to say they’ll come in if Bernie makes the sport greener. The time limit for both (a) saving Honda from closure and (b) getting ready for the 2009 season is a matter of days. It’s not really the best time for a drawn-out debate on F1 in the future.

    What are they going to get from Bernie? Some vague promise about cleaner fuels to be introduced from some vague date? That’s too late – they’ll already have paid and wasted money if in essence that rule change doesn’t happen or doesn’t occur fast enough for Virgin’s liking.

  5. anirudh said on 21st February 2009, 15:06

    May be he should start following Indian Auto rickshaw racing :-D

  6. Let him change the fuel that he put in his plains before he misses up with the fuel of F1. Keep the greenies away from F1.

    • *plane

    • hitchcockm00 said on 21st February 2009, 15:40

      Agree with the first point, disagree with the second.

      Why would you not want F1 to change with the times? It’s supposed to be the pinnacle of motoring technology and whether you like it or not the future of motoring technology is finding ways to make cars greener.

    • Motor racing isn’t a green sport, it should be about the fastest car. Agreed.

  7. Karlos said on 21st February 2009, 16:18

    In a way, F1 has already gone some way towards what Branson is talking about: cost cutting measures are in place, and they already use biofules (though arguably they aren’t green, but let’s stay on topic…). I don’t think what Branson said in that interview would prevent him from being on the grid in Melbourne, in essence it was a quick throwaway comment in a low-brow interview.

    And as mentioned above, the implication of what he says is that they are in talks with Honda. Let’s wait and see.

  8. Eh. Indy cars already run on 100% ethanol. I have the suspicion that one reason was to convince Ethanol promoters to sponsor teams / races / IndyCar. I know they sponsored Bobby Rahal’s team, but I think they left him at the end of last season.

    I guess promoting cleaner fuels can be a good thing, but I’m baffled that someone could consider it a deal breaker if he wanted to come into the sport.

    • “but I’m baffled that someone could consider it a deal breaker if he wanted to come into the sport.”

      I think Branson is aware of how difficult it is to ask for more than what is possible, given just the timeframe for Honda to make the 2009 season, but I guess this is something he more or less has to say, as top dog of the Virgin brand.

      I think Virgin have a ‘green’ image to the outside world, and consumers- whether or not they are actually ‘green’ is another thing. Their latest trains run on biodiesel (the first in Europe) and they are amongst the first to order Boeing Dreamliners at Virgin Atlantic. So by making this statement it further enhances this image of Virgin, even if Branson doesn’t make it into F1. Any publicity’s good publicity.

      Besides, F1 WILL have to go completely clean on fuel eventually anyway, so why not put R&D that F1 has been so renowned for into this sooner than later? I’m sure Branson will be a good figurehead for seeing this through, not least because it will undoubtedly do his Virgin brand plenty of favours.

    • Not sure about you, but do you have any idea how much more money it costs us in the states to produce Ethanol?
      It isn’t worth using all of our corn that is for sure- HUGE waste in making it.

  9. Have to say, apart from the green fuel, this is the best time to buy Honda by Mr B. Going relatively cheap ( I assume ), massively reduced cost for 2010 espech, state of the art steam ( though their full size wind tunnel is a bit of a waste now yes?? )

    The green fuel goal, just wont happen on Richards say so. It will need planning, consent and Bernie approval, none of which will happen in time for Honda, and I guess the rest of the teams are safe’ish now. I might happen when your part of F1, but a demand from outside the sport? Doubtful, but then it’s obvious Bernie is super giddy with the prospect of the Virgin Group joining F1, so future plans may be put in place.

    Virgin always makes for good buying decisions ( some may argue over Virgin Rail ), so I don’t think Honda will be facing the same fate again.

    Also, IF this happens, then I know exactly who I want to take Bernie’s place!!! :D

  10. Rob R. said on 21st February 2009, 18:08

    I approve of F1 becoming more green.

    And by that I mean, they should get rid the tarmac run off areas and put grass there again.

  11. Sush Meerkat said on 21st February 2009, 18:38

    clean motor racing?, says the guy who owns the biggest private airline in the world.

  12. verasaki said on 21st February 2009, 20:08

    branson didn’t actually say bernie had to “make” f1 cleaner, but that if f1 would champion a cleaner sport (and i wonder if he was speaking exclusively to the environment aspect there)ie: instead of painting the pop art planet earth on the car or blowing money on relatively useless however interesting it is technology out the tail pipe, actually looking at real development instead of the cynical hop-on-the-green-bus nonsense max and bernie have been spouting over the last season or two.

    and like him or not, virgin was (and still is) the only airline even looking at waste, consumption and possible fuel alternatives last year… well, okay, american did propose underfueling their planes until the pilots more or less leaked the suggestion to an amazed public. but you can see there’s a difference in the thought process there.

    personal opinion? bring on whatcha got sir richard. the f1 bureaucracy could do with a little bit of sense and good stiff breeze ruffling their toupes.

  13. Martin Bell said on 21st February 2009, 21:30

    Am I the only one who would far rather the Honda team was bought by someone who wanted to go racing? Not ‘cheap and clean’ racing, not’good exposure in south america/where ever’ racing, not ‘marketing opportunity’ racing, not ‘brand awareness’ racing. Just someone who wants to build the fastest car and win the most races. I think some people here are losing sight of why it is they sit indoors on sunny afternoons for two hours, watching cars drive round in circles, or get up at four in the morning to do the same. I would love to see Virgin in F1, but the Virgin of twenty years ago.

    • markpatterson said on 21st February 2009, 22:30

      good points,Martin.im in the usa,but i remember Brabham,Jordan et all.those WERE the days.

    • sajonaraman said on 21st February 2009, 22:34

      He could have just said he’s out of cash…

    • Very well said.

    • patrickl said on 22nd February 2009, 12:55

      The thing is that Branson is the sponsor. Branson is not going to build the cars himelf. He’s only sponsoring the team.

      He needs to have some way to show returns for his sponsoring investments.

      Of course he’ll hire people who DO want to make the fastest cars possible.

  14. markpatterson said on 21st February 2009, 22:35

    f1 needs honda i guess,but theyre not ven using honda engines of course.branson knows as much about f1 as r dennis knows about running a recording label or an airlines.hopefully hell surround himself with guys who DO.

  15. So…. just exactly what does he mean by clean fuel?

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