PETALING JAYA, Feb 15 (Bernama) — Global direct selling company, QNet, is confident of enhancing its international branding from its partnership as a sponsor of the F1 team, Marussia Virgin Racing.

QNet, the flagship subsidiary of the QI Group of companies helmed by Malaysian entrepreneur, Datuk Vijay Eswaran, is also embarking on several projects with the Virgin Group led by its flamboyant chief executive officer Sir Richard Branson in hospitality, telecommunications and other fields.

Eswaran said the exposure for QNet will be at the highest level as the 2011 FIA Formula One world championsip calendar gets underway next month in the desert heat of Abu Dhabi with a total of 20 races around the world.

The 2011 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix will held at the Sepang circuit from April 8-10.

Based on statistics released by Formula One Management (FOM), aside from spectators at the circuits, the television audience itself increased to 527 million viewers in the 2010 season, regarded as one of the most thrilling in recent years with over 16,000 hours of coverage broadcast to 187 countries.

“It’s not about advertising money equals product sales, but F1 sports is clearly the platform to be on if you want to be there on the global village,” Eswaran, who is the Executive Chairman of the QI Group of Companies, told Bernama after a press briefing on the QNet-Virgin Group partnership which runs from 2011-2013.

He stressed that becoming one of the sponsors for the Marussia Virgin Racing team was part of a global branding exercise for QNet and its products.

He admitted that QNet had originally opened discussions with the Lotus Racing team to be one of its sponsors but following the legal wrangle on the “Lotus” name which is ongoing in the English courts, QNet decided to opt for the Virgin Racing team.

“But it cannot be denied that Richard Branson who was personally involved in the negotiations, had laid on the table an excellent sponsorship proposition which had symbiotic benefits which we could not say no to,” he said.

The partnership was announced in November at last year’s Abu Dhabi race, whereby the QNet brand was featured prominently on the drivers’ racewear and the sidepods of the Virgin Racing’s VR-01 race cars.

This year, Virgin Racing’s new car, the MVR-02 race car, is expected to provide a better edge for its drivers Timo Glock from Germany and Jerome D’Ambrosio from Belgium to earn honours.

The QNet logo will be prominent on the front and rear wings of the newly unveiled MVR-02 race car, as well as being positioned on the overalls of the drivers, mechanics and team members.

Although the team failed to score any points last year, team officials have expressed confidence that this year, the cars will perform much better. Last year RBR-Renault’s German driver Sebastian Vettel won the overall championship.

Formula One Management’s Group CEO Bernie Ecclestone had recently said that the 2011 season will see Formula One racing televised in high definition for the first time and has New Delhi as the latest addition to the F1 calendar.

Eswaran said there were synergies between QNet and the Virgin Group in areas such as media, telecommunications, lifestyle products, hotels and resorts.

He said that for QNet, which has been involved with motorsport through its sponsorship of teams in the Formula BMW, Formula V6 and the GP2 Asia series from 2004 to 2009, the move to the prestigious Formula One was a natural progression, ensuring exposure for the brand on a global stage, in one of the most prestigious sporting arenas.

Marussia Virgin Racing made its debut as Virgin Racing in the 2010 Formula One season with Branson’s Virgin Group as the title sponsor of the team.

On November 11, 2010, it was announced that Marussia Motors, a Russian sports car manufacturer had taken a controlling stake in the team, thus the name change to Marussia Virgin Racing.