Branson wanted a female driver
Richard Branson has revealed he was on the hunt for a female driver to race for his Virgin Formula One team next year.
He told the Daily Star he wanted IndyCar driver Danica Patrick in his line-up for 2010, but couldn't persuade her to leave the USA. She has experienced success in America's premier single-seater series, finishing fifth in this year's championship and winning a race in 2008.
"I would have loved to have had a looker like Danica drive," he told the paper. "She is not only good and quick, she's a stunner. I believe there is room for women drivers in F1."
Team principal Alex Tai said Virgin had searched for a female driver, but couldn't track down a suitable candidate.
"There isn't really a female out there right now who could do it," Tai said. "This is a really physical and exhausting sport and they would find it hard to cope."
Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi will race for Virgin next year, while GP2 drivers Alvaro Parente and Luiz Razia have been named as test drivers. At the team's launch, Branson said he felt his line-up for 2010 was the next best thing to having a female driver.
"We've got tremendous drivers, all four of them," Branson said. "I wanted four female drivers but we've ended up with four of the best looking male drivers out there. They're the kind of drivers that will embrace the fans, which I don't think has happened much before. They'll spend time with the fans and we won't put a big barbed-wire fence between the two."