Dublin, Monday: Former Ferrari F1 driver Eddie Irvine has complained that his appointment to the new Manor GP team was based on him being “misled” as to the nature of the operation.

Misled: Manor signing Eddie Irvine
Misled: Manor signing Eddie Irvine

Irvine, who retired from Formula One in 2002, recently took up a post with the new team shortly after it secured title sponsorship for the 2010 season from Richard Branson’s Virgin set of businesses.

“Well, I got a call the other day asking if I wanted a job at Virgin Manor,” the flamboyant Ulsterman told the press. “Now, when I heard the name, I had all these images of a house filled with young and beautiful girls. Now, who wouldn’t take an opportunity like that?

“Then they tell me to turn up at the factory, which I thought was a bit odd at the time, but when I got there it turned out it was just some stupid Grand Prix team. I’ve been totally misled into accepting this job.”

Irvine was renowned for his womanising while in F1, though Manor team boss Nick Wirth has denied that the choice of team name had anything to do with luring the Northern Irishman to the team. “It’s just coincidence. After all, we know how much Mr. Branson hates puns,” Wirth said, referencing a story featured in some high-quality F1 publication some months ago.

Formula One teams have had a history of causing confusion with their names, most recently in 2004 when Russian billionaire Alex Shnaider thought he was buying a small Middle Eastern country, when it turned out he had actually purchased the Jordan F1 team.

Richard Branson himself has not yet commented on the furore, though he is privately said to have considered Irvine’s suggestion of a Virgin Manor as “a bloody good idea.”

With apologies to Tom L.