March 13, 2010 / 6:24 PM / 10 years ago

Motor racing-Branson says his F1 team are 'bang on track'

MANAMA, March 13 (Reuters) - Richard Branson declared the successful birth of his Virgin Formula One team on Saturday after they were first of the newcomers in qualifying for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Germany’s Timo Glock will start 19th of the 24 drivers, immediately ahead of the two Lotus cars.

The British billionaire, who last year sponsored the title-winning Brawn team, said it would take time for Virgin to catch up with the established teams but he was satisfied with the situation so far.

“The baby was born today and babies have to develop into children and then adults,” he told reporters. “We hope it’s going to be a quicker process than that.”

Branson said having his own team was just as exciting as backing winners.

“The challenge that the team had set themselves was to be number one of the new teams with a budget almost half of the other new teams and a fraction of the price of the big teams,” he added.

“In qualifying, they pulled that off...considering that they have had just a few months to get this far, I think they have done tremendously well. Now I feel we are a proper racing team which is very exciting.”

Branson said Virgin were aiming to be truly competitive within three to five years.

“We know exactly what our expectations were, set the expectations and today they are bang on track,” he said. “But tomorrow’s the race.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer; to query or comment on this story email

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