Manor-Virgin Deal Confirmed by Leaked Email

Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone can stay assured, as it was confirmed – unofficially, though – that Manor Grand Prix will secure a title sponsorship deal with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group within the next few weeks. Although just a rumor a few days ago, the news received some further confirmation via a leaked email from FIA's race stewart Alan Donnelly.

The email was made public by British newspaper The Guardian, and reveals that Virgin Group had already finalized takeover talks with Manor's representatives even before the team was officially confirmed for the 2010 entry list. That's probably the reason why Nick Wirth's team was preferred by Mosley ahead of other outfits that were believed to hold a better chance to make the 2010 roster previously to the FIA announcement.

Virgin have signed to be investment partners with a shareholding of around 20 per cent,” said the email authored by Connelly.

Things tend to get more serious, though, as it seems Connelly did not take a neutral role in the financial arrangement between the two companies. The second part of the email clearly shows that the FIA representative had arranged a meeting between the Manor officials and a member of the Saudi royal family to seal the deal.

I will be in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and look forward to seeing you at our planned meeting ... with representatives of Manor and Virgin. However if you would like a pre-meeting with me privately on Sunday then please let me know,” red the email, as shown by the aforementioned publication.

Connelly consistently denied all accusations of improper conduct, as he revealed he had gone to Saudi Arabia for FIA-related purposes.
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