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Formula 1 team boss turned BBC television pundit Eddie Jordan emphasises that Virgin Racing must place survival atop their list of priorities before focussing on key sponsors ahead of 2011. However, the Irishman admits a level of concern for the Sheffield-based outfit originally known as Manor GP.
With Team Principal John Booth, a long-time friend of Jordan, having entered his team before Sir Richard Branson’s worldwide corporation came on-board, Jordan stresses that just staying in the sport will now be a far greater challenge.
“People are forgiving of Virgin now, they realise how tough a job it is, but nevertheless, people are impatient,” Jordan told the Yorkshire Post. “They have a window of understanding but there is a lot of pressure on the team.
“It's so important to Formula 1 to have these teams; I get really upset when they're referred to as ‘B teams’ by some people - they deserve to be there, they met the criteria and were accepted by (governing body) the FIA.”
Despite his empathy, Eddie does confess that the team’s Technical Director is presented with a steep mountain to climb. “Nick Wirth has a big job on his hands,” Jordan continued. “They have got to show the racing public that they are developing the car because record books and stopwatches never lie – Virgin are off the pace. As much as I am desperately keen for them to do well, they need to up their game and get closer to the chasing pack.
“I'm concerned about sponsorship because that is 100 percent the battle John and the team are faced with. How long is Sir Richard Branson going to be around for? He is one of Britain's, in fact the world's, leading entrepreneurs, but they don't seem to be attracting new sponsors to the team.
“I'm aware how tough it is, I've been there, and let's hope they do attract big sponsors. They need to finish tenth in the Constructors' Championship; if they don't get that tenth place it puts a huge, huge burden on the team this winter. I spoke with John recently; he knows that this year is about surviving…there's no point in being a bankrupt hero.”
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