Branson keen to pip rivals to 10th place

Virgin Racing have set their sights on beating Lotus to a 10th-placed finish in this year's Formula One world championship given the financial rewards on offer.

Virgin Racing have set their sights on beating Lotus to a 10th-placed finish in this year's Formula One world championship given the financial rewards on offer.

Formula One's rules governing prize money are complicated, but only the top 10 in the constructors' championship are given a handout.

Such a position for the newcomers, with fellow new boys Lotus and Hispania also vying for the coveted spot and all so far without a point, could ultimately result in a 25million dollar (�17million) windfall.

When informed of the potential pot on offer, it perked up the ears of team owner Sir Richard Branson who was unaware of just how much money was at stake.

"There's some money? You never told me that," Branson said to CEO Graeme Lowdon, who replied: "It does make a difference."

Lowdon added: "We have a long-term plan for the team, so getting a 10th-placed finish in the championship would be a bonus.

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"If we get a point then it really would make a massive difference."

When told the exact figure, a shocked Branson said: "Bloody hell, well yeah, I would like to get 10th place.

"Whereas I said I wouldn't mind about 10th place, I've suddenly taken a big interest."

Lowdon responded: "It's an innovative structure, and if you do well on the track then you get very well rewarded."

Branson added: "The more times we can get two cars finishing then that would be great, and if we can get a point or two, then even better."

Finishing above Lotus is certainly still one of Branson's main aims given the personal bet he has with its owner in AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes.

Whoever finishes lower in the championship has to wear a stewardess uniform on one of the other's flights.

"I need to make the rules clear so we don't have too big a dispute," joked Branson.

He added: "One year ago we only got our licence, so this racing company was a piece of paper back then. We then had to scramble to find the people and build the car, and I think the team has done well."

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