Russian car maker Marussia Motors's newly acquired stake in UK-based Virgin Racing will strengthen the team and boost competition in Formula 1 (F1) events, the chief executive of Virgin Racing said on Thursday.
"This is definitely a good news story for Virgin Racing and for F1," Graeme Lowdon said. "Marussia Motors has been a much-valued team partner throughout the 2010 season and we are delighted to introduce them formally as the significant shareholder in Virgin Racing."
The deal is the second attempt to create a Russian national team in F1. In 2005, Midland group, owned by Russian-born businessman Alex Shnaider, attempted to create an F1 team, but after its unsuccessful debut in 2006, Shnaider sold the team to Dutch car manufacturer Spyker Cars NV.
The new team, which will be called Marussia Virgin Racing starting from 2011, will honor all Virgin Racing's existing contracts, including those with drivers Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi, as well as with engine producer Cosworth.
According to the Financial Times, at $64.4 million, the budget of Virgin Racing for the first year of its existence was one of the lowest of all current F1 teams.
The Russian company aims to make the team competitive in the coming years, after it earned no points during this season.
Nikolai Fomenko, one of the four co-owners of Marussia Motors, said on Thursday his company would not only invest money in the team, but also help with engineering support.
"We are actively participating in the creation of a Marussia Virgin race car for the next season and we have everything we need for that," he said.
The official presentation of next season's race car, which is currently being built at Virgin's base in Britain, will be held in late January - early February in London. The car will also be presented in Moscow.
Fomenko also vowed to bring the team to the top of the F1 competition by 2014.
The announcement of the deal is yet another indicator that the Russian leadership is taking a growing interest in F1, which, after the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games, is the world's third most popular sporting event.
Last month, Russia signed a multimillion dollar agreement with F1 to stage a Grand Prix near the Black Sea resort city of Sochi between 2014 and 2020.
On Sunday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin tested his skills as a Formula 1 pilot, driving a race car for several hours at a speed of 240 km/ h (150 miles per hour) on a special track in the Leningrad Region in Russia's northwest.
MOSCOW, November 11 (RIA Novosti)