Branson set to pull plug on Brawn deal

SIR RICHARD Branson has hinted that his Virgin brand may be about to withdraw its support of Brawn GP after their dazzling debut season.<br /><br />The team won both the drivers&rsquo; and constructors&rsquo; championships in their maiden season, with British racer Jenson Button sealing the triumph on Sunday in Brazil.<br /><br />But that success is set to make them a far more expensive proposition than the patched-up outfit that only confirmed its entry into the competition three weeks before the season started.<br /><br />And Virgin are widely tipped to have agreed a deal to sponsor another newcomer, Manor, who are set to take their place on the grid next year.<br /><br />&ldquo;It was the perfect relationship. Virgin loves to support an underdog but they are now one of the most expensive teams out there and certainly not underdogs any more,&rdquo; Branson said. &ldquo;We will make an announcement in the next month but at the moment we just want to celebrate a magnificent season with the Brawn team, Jenson and team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who did fantastically also.&rdquo;<br /><br />Branson offered to sponsor Brawn GP, which was formed from the remnants of the Honda team when the Japanese manufacturer withdrew from the sport late last year, on the eve of the season&rsquo;s first race. <br /><br />It proved an inspired move, as Brawn left their rivals trailing, but the tycoon admits he was tipped off that the team were a good bet by an inside source.<br /><br />&ldquo;I knew they had a good car, as I happened to know one of the test drivers,&rdquo; Branson added. &ldquo;But I don&rsquo;t think in our wildest dreams we thought this would happen.&rdquo;