Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Engine Blood's Guide To 2014: Marussia

IN SHORT: Not in much of a (Ma)rush.

HISTORY: Every year we mention this, and every year we will continue to mention this: when Marussia debuted (as Virgin Racing) in 2010, their first car had a fuel tank that was not large enough to finish a race.  Try to take that in for a moment.  That's the kind of team we're dealing with here.

Richard Branson made some unfortunate comments about lady racers and had some kind of guffawing billionaire's bet with Tony Fernandes, then promptly buggered off, leaving a Russian interest to take over the unimpressive team.  They achieved their best ever finish last season - second to last.  Whoopdy-doo.


Source: Fox Sports (photo by Adam Cooper)
Well, that's a bit more like it at least.  Definitely a more conventional design than most this year, albeit with a stupid pointy bit right at the front.  Whether this is a damning indictment of their inability to develop or a clever exercise in sticking with what they know will hopefully become apparent on lap 1 in Melbourne.

ENGINE: Ferrari, by way of highly rated prospect Jules Bianchi piquing their interest at around the same time as Cosworth quietly withdrew from Formula One.  Again.  They'll be back...


4. Max CHILTON (GB) - Last year: 23rd (0 points, best finish: 14th, Monaco)

17. Jules BIANCHI (FRA) - Last year: 19th (0 points, best finish: 13th, Malaysia)

Great Britain's Max Chilton set a record last year by becoming the first driver ever to finish every race of their debut season!  Largely this consisted of last place finishes, but it's still a thing.  A sad little thing, but a thing.  Continuity is great for a lower league team in terms of car development, so keeping a safe pair of hands like Fantastic Max on is a shrewd move.

Bianchi has a lot of interest from the higher teams, and nearly got a Force India berth last year before they decided to stick with Mercedes engines.  It was he who clinched the all-important 13th place that got the team their coveted (by two teams) tenth place finish, and he who may be in the mix for a less pointless drive in 2015; a better finish this year would really put him in that frame.

LAST YEAR: 10th (0 points)

I know how that looks, but this was a marked improvement over previous years.  It still seems odd that so much can turn on a seemingly innocuous 13th place, but it meant the balance to this hard-working and seldom-rewarded squad.  Building on it this year seems unlikely, but if they can survive until the budget comes in, it could be their time.

... There's never going to be a budget cap, is there?

PROSPECTS: In the last testing session in Bahrain, they got a computer virus which wiped out nearly a day's worth of running.  That's the kind of team we're dealing with here.

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