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Marussia finally gets a deal to make it feel part of Formula 1
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Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Oct 2013   |  5:15 am GMT  |  13 comments

The Marussia F1 team has been waiting a long time, but this weekend in India it was announced that they have finally signed a bilateral commercial agreement with Bernie Ecclestone which brings them into line with the other ten teams in F1.

The deal means that all the teams in F1 are now tied in until 2020, while a bilateral agreement is also in place between Ecclestone’s company and the FIA.

Bearing in mind that the leading teams like Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull signed commercial agreements with Ecclestone in March 2012, it has taken a long time for Marussia to arrive at this point.

The 82 year old has said on many occasions that he would prefer just 10 teams in F1 for transport and logistical reasons, as well as dividing the prize money pot. Prize money is only paid down to 10th place on the grid. Marussia currently lies 10th, ahead of Caterham.

Sporting director Graeme Lowden said that while the deal is clearly a boost to the team’s coffers, the most valuable aspect is the way the team is now perceived from the outside. Potential sponsors will have been deterred by due diligence revealing that Marussia had no contract to participate in F1 and the doubt always hung over the team about its long term viability. It will take some time for investor confidence to return in the team after so long in the cold, but at least they can start to work from here.

In fact Marussia is in the fortunate position of having a wealthy shareholder, Russian billionaire scientist Andrei Cheglikov, who bankrolls the operation and who has stayed patient through the last 18 months as it appeared that F1 was trying to cold shoulder his team with no commercial deal.

The presence of a wealthy shareholder is something that other teams on the grid, like Williams and Sauber, lack and that makes life tricky for them. Sauber once had BMW, but they withdrew in 2009 leaving Peter Sauber to pick up the pieces.

Williams has been courting the Qataris and Sauber the wealthy Mexican Carlos Slim, but neither has yet weighed in with heavy investment.

The next couple of years will be very interesting as the F1 Strategy Group has now started meeting. Led by the FIA, Ecclestone and the top teams, they will set a course for the F1 of the future. The small and medium sized teams are not part of this process and their voice in the development of the sport has been greatly diluted as a result.

Many believe that the secret agenda is for the non-Strategy Group teams to be pushed into running customer cars, bought from the top teams.

Marussia is well set up to be a Ferrari customer car team, running a Ferrari powertrain and back end next year, as well as Ferrari development driver Jules Bianchi.

It is ironic, given that Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was so scathing about the new teams (Caterham Virgin/Marussia and HRT) “limping into F1″ back in 2010.

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13 Comments
  1. David says:

    I suggest a spending cap that can be exceeded, the penalty being for every dollar over the cap, a matched dollar goes into a fund that is divided between the bottom 4 teams.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Good idea, I like it :)

      Two questions though:

      First, do those extra dollars come from the team or the FIA?

      Second (and this has been a sticker for a while), how do the FIA enforce a budget cap?

      Salaries, resources, on track expenses, back at the factory expenses, testing and development costs (and probably a hundred other costs I haven’t thought of or mentioned) – it would all have to come under one set of regulations.

    2. Bryce says:

      Would like to see something similar, but not restricted to the bottom four.

  2. Spyros says:

    Good news. It would certainly be embarrassing for F1 if a team that ISN’T currently the slowest team, was forced out of the sport not due to poor performance or finances, but purely for commercial reasons.

    Am I the only one that’s very impressed by how these gents have been keeping Caterham so honest, without the benefit of a Renault engine, a Red Bull gearbox or a KERS system? I’m looking forward to them embarrassing a few more people next year, when they have a proper power supply for the first time.

    1. Simmo says:

      Marussia isn’t the slowest any more, but it is impossible for Caterham to overtake them in the standings unless there are mass retirements one race (or bizarre weather)

      1. Simmo says:

        Sorry, that was supposed to be Marussia are the slowest again

  3. bearforce says:

    Happy bout this. Felt really sorry for this team when they were being messed around. By Bernie? It just seemed like whipping the little guy and for no profit except being mean. This team has to work extra hard just to make make it to the track. Marussia provide us with a show. They also give the top teams someone to race against and make the top the top teams look ever so superior.

  4. Rob Pullar says:

    RE: “Russian billionaire scientist Andrei Cheglikov”

    James, as a scientist I was intigued by this billionaire scientist I had never heard of (no true scientists ever seem to get that rich). A hard man to Google – seems he keeps a low profile.

    His name is spelled “Andrey Cheglakov” on the Marussia site, where he is described as a technologist. Seems he was a mathematician, with a degree from Moscow State University, and worked for the Russian Academy of Sciences.

    After the fall of communsim he set up a company, and got the Chinese Ninetendo manufacturer to make him an exact copy of the NES system, which wasn’t protected by a patent in Russia. He sold 6 million units! Not much science involved there, just saw a smart, if slightly dodgy, business oportunity. He then re-invested in software development and importing computers into Russia, and wants to use the Marussia team to develop a luxury/sports car brand in Russia in the future.

    Interesting article about him on Joe Saward’s site (if I can say that here James) where it is stated that the Marussia was based on the Pagani Zonda!

    http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/from-russia-with-cash/

    1. Random 79 says:

      A Zonda might be faster, especially with a bit of NES technology under the hood ;)

  5. leslie D'Amico says:

    “Marussia is well set up to be a Ferrari customer car team, running a Ferrari powertrain and back end next year, as well as Ferrari development driver Jules Bianchi.

    It is ironic, given that Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was so scathing about the new teams (Caterham Virgin/Marussia and HRT) “limping into F1″ back in 2010.”

    Ironic indeed, just sayin’…

  6. Random 79 says:

    Up to now Marussia have had their proverbial out to the wind, but now that they’ve been confirmed as a “proper” F1 team Marussia could start to be a real force in the mid-field, especially when you consider how they’ve managed to keep Caterham honest so far with only a minimal budget.

    That is of course assuming the heavy investors step up so they can have a real go at it.

  7. Stephen Taylor says:

    James , Will Marussia and Sauber have some Ferrari engineers in their garages to monitor their powertrains next year?

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