My Take: Staff Changes at Virgin Racing

What Happens When Things Look Fishy

12:15am EST — In what appeared to most of the Formula1 world to be a shocking development, Virgin Racing announced Tuesday that Alex Tai would no longer be team principal, but John Booth would return to the post he held while the team was still called ManorGP.  Similarly, Graeme Lowdon (formerly Director of Racing and a founding member of ManorGP) has been named as CEO, while Tai keeps his job as Director of Special Projects for Virgin.

Many see this as a disturbing development (which is not improbable), but it does appear that there could be another explanation.  While the team’s explanation that this sort of change was always planned sounds like they are scrambling for anything to keep unnecessary questions away, it could be at least partially true.  Tai has always had a separate job at Virgin and was only publicly named team principal a month ago.  He was listed on the takeover documents, as published in late September, but has not had experience running a F1 team.

It does make sense for Virgin Racing to have an experienced F1 hand (Booth) run the team instead of a man whose usual tasks for Virgin are, as Tai said, “finding new opportunities and the challenge of starting new ventures.”  It certainly sounds as though his work for Virgin Racing is done, and it is time for the team to work toward the racing part of the name, instead of Richard Branson’s company.


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