Sir Richard Branson will finally make good on a bet he made three years ago when his Virgin team competed in Formula One.
The Virgin group founder and billionaire is set to honor the bet he made to Tony Fernandes about which of their teams would finish ahead in the 2010 world championship by working as an steward on Fernandes’ airline.
Fernandes ran the Lotus team (now Caterham) at the time, which beat Virgin in the constructors’ championship that year. Branson sold his stake in the team to Marussia at the end of 2011.
It has taken three years to arrange for Branson to meet the terms of the bet by working for Fernandes for a day. Yesterday AirAsia confirmed he will do so on a flight from Perth, Australia to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on Sunday 12th May.
“This is sure to be a once in a lifetime experience,” said a statement. “There will be fun and games, and of course a certain billionaire working the aisles in the famous AirAsia red cabin crew outfit.”
“Proceeds from each seat booked will be given to the Starlight Children’s Foundation Australia. A portion of all ancillary sales from the flight will also be donated to Starlight Foundation.”
Flight tickets are priced at AUS 399 (US $417) and can be purchased from airasia.com.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.