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Virgin boss announces GP3 team 15 Jan 2010

John Booth (GBR) Sporting Director Virgin Racing. Virgin Racing announce that they will enter F1 in 2010 re-branding the Manor F1 Team. Louise Blouin Foundation, London, UK. 15 December 2009. Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, test drives the new GP3 Series car. GP3 Series Launch, Paul Ricard, France, Tuesday 17 November 2009. © GP3 Series

The new Virgin Racing team’s plans for a driver development programme have taken a major step forward with news that team principal John Booth is also launching a GP3 team for 2010. The Manor Racing GP3 squad will share race shop facilities with the Virgin Formula One team and its best driver will earn an F1 test.

GP3 is a new single-seater racing category making its debut this season as a feeder series for the GP2 Series. It will run alongside the GP2 championship with the inaugural race scheduled for the Spanish Grand Prix weekend in May.

Prior to entering Formula One under the Virgin name, Booth and his Manor Motorsport organisation achieved great success in other junior series such as Formula Three and Formula Renault and played a major role in the development of several driving greats, including Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton.

“Manor GP3 is a terrific opportunity for potential stars of the future to climb the Virgin Racing ladder,” commented Booth. “Our objective has been to achieve a budget for the series that is not only extremely competitive, but which also offers our drivers the added benefit of the Manor driver development blueprint and integration with the F1 team.

“In addition to receiving fantastic support from our highly experienced race team professionals, Manor GP3 will occupy the same race shop facilities as the Virgin Racing F1 team, have access to the simulator programme operated by Wirth Research, and run in support of European rounds of the 2010 Formula One calendar. The icing on the cake is the fantastic prize of an F1 test with Virgin Racing for the most successful Manor GP3 driver.”

The GP3 cars are a standardised, all-new Dallara chassis combined with a 280bhp Renault engine and with a six-speed longitudinal sequential Hewland gearbox. Pirelli will supply tyres to the series and GP2 supplier Brembo will manufacture brakes.