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Virgin signs up as ninth team for Formula E

Dec 5, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT

120513_virginfe_racing_car

Virgin Racing has signed up with the new FIA Formula E Championship as the series’ ninth team. Alex Tai will operate the squad as team principal and the effort has the full support and backing of Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson.

Virgin has spent some of its large sum in motorsports before, as a partner in the Brawn GP team that won the 2009 Formula One World Championship with Jenson Button, and later as the principal backer for the team now known as Marussia.

But as Virgin has withdrawn from F1, its business goals match what FE is trying to achieve instead. Both Tai and Branson have worked to pioneer technology projects in aviation, space and more recently racing.

“The launch of the FIA Formula E Championship is exciting news for racing fans but also for those that believe in developing the great electric cars of the future,” Branson said in a release. “The need to create fast, dependable and durable race cars will help to accelerate the sector and showcase electric cars to a large global audience. With races around many famous city centers, I am expecting a lot of spectators, plenty of fun and some sparks flying as the competition hots up.”

Tai added that this is part of Virgin’s overarching strategy.

“The drive to develop new technology appeals to Virgin, which has always been a pioneering organization,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in a number of such activities over years, from the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer to Virgin Galactic activities that push technological and human boundaries and capture people’s imagination.”

The rest of the grid includes IndyCar teams Andretti Autosport and Dragon Racing, Asian efforts China Racing, Super Aguri and Mahindra Racing, and European squads Drayson Racing, e.dams and Audi Sport Abt.

  1. worknman24hours - Dec 7, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    I am really digging this new racing series.

    I just hope that the races can be tied to another racing series like Formula One or maybe F1 ‘s lesser series and that the presentation is very professional but more importantly, that the cars are safe.

    Unlike regular racing cars, the pushing of the boundaries of stored energy devices has been known to cause battery fires and even worse, explosive releases of high amounts of toxic gases directly into the driver compartment.

    The rules should state that there will be venting portals that protect the drivers in all the varied designs and those deisgns should be allowed to be relatively wide open too.

    Not the restricted practically spec cars we see in most over regulated racing series today.

    The Virgin brand coming into the series is great because Virgin’s founder and the series both hold great hope for real progress in the ways we get around and the technology in this series will prove that.

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