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GP Week : Issue 63
THE new-for-2010 Manor F1 entry will run as the Virgin F1 Team next season, with an announcement due over its new identity at the 2009 season nale in Abu Dhabi. There was much talk in the Monza paddock over the weekend that Virgin's reported 20 percent stake in the Manor F1 project will now include full naming rights for the team, rumours which a Manor spokesperson refused to either confirm or deny when asked by GPWeek. The Virgin brand has appeared on the BrawnGP cars since the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. Speaking inside BrawnGP's motorhome at the end of the Italian Grand Prix, Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson refused to deny the rumours linking his company with a switch of allegiance to Manor when quizzed by GPWeek. "I'm not going to stand in Brawn and talk about anything except what a sunny, delightful first and second [result] Brawn has had, and obviously we're delighted to be principal sponsor for the whole of the season. "Next year we will ... well, watch this space." Branson added fuel to the rumours by refusing to confirm that Virgin would remain onboard with Brawn into 2010. "I will be in Abu Dhabi and we will talk further then." Virgin deal set for Abu Dhabi PART 1 of Fernando Alonso's much- vaunted move to Ferrari for 2010 was completed at the Italian Grand Prix as Spanish banking giant Santander and Ferrari announced a ve-year sponsorship deal. Santander became a key sponsor of the McLaren F1 team in 2007 as part of Fernando Alonso's move to the team from Renault, and it is widely believed that Santander's decision to align itself with Ferrari has been made to again link the Spanish brand with the country's hero Alonso. Santander is thus expected to sponsor both McLaren and Ferrari in 2010, with an announcement over its continued relationship with the British team expected this week. Alonso himself made the clearest hints yet that he is Ferrari-bound at Monza. Replying to a challenge laid down by his former McLaren team- mate Lewis Hamilton of, "it would be nice if Fernando and I could drive for the World Drivers' Championship for the next 10 years, me at McLaren and him in a Ferrari," Alonso accepted his rival's invitation. "What have I got to say to Lewis about our challenge? That it's fine by me, I accept." The Spaniard told Gazzetta.tv. When quizzed further about his future with Ferrari he said: "We can't be sure 100 percent about that yet, there's still work to be done." Not a denial then ... nor anything even close. Santander to Ferrari; Alonso next F1 NEWS >> 7