Marussia today rolled out its 2014 challenger in Jerez, the first car from the Banbury based team to be powered by Ferrari.
Now in its fifth season of F1 competition, the team rolls into the new season with a spring in its step after securing the coveted 10th place in the Constructor’s Championship last season.
So far the Ferrari power train seems to have been behaving itself in the early running for the teams in Jerez and the technical design group at Marussia, under the experienced John McQuilliam, has produced a car which the team hopes will challenge for a point or two this season.
“As we saw in the step from 2012 to 2013, we have young but experienced and extremely talented technical and engineering groups within the Marussia F1 Team, who have contributed enormously to our rate of progression over the past couple of years,” said team boss Jon Booth.
“To have designed a car that is true to the concept first conceived in early 2012, despite the integration of an entirely new powertrain and whilst pushing hard to attain our 2013 Constructors’ Championship objective, is a testament to the extent to which we have matured as a technical organisation.”
As I saw last season when I spent an FP3 session in Montreal on the Marussia pit wall, the team is operationally very strong. All that has been lacking so far has been points of downforce on the car and arguably the engine. Ferrari replaces Cosworth, which with only one customer in F1 the last few years wasn’t able to do much in the sophisticated areas around exhausts for example, where Renault was so clever.
Marussia is one of the teams which benefits from a very wealthy shareholder, Russian scientist Andrei Cheglakov. Unlike Williams and Sauber, the backing of a super wealthy enthusiast means that Marussia’s shortfall in budget between what the commercial revenues from TV and sponsorship bring and the cost of competing can usually be made up by writing a cheque.
Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton return for a second season, meaning it’s the first time that the team hasn’t had to deal with rookies. Apart from the obvious benefit of continuity and a better degree of driver technical understanding, which will help when dealing with such complex cars, the effect of this on the racing is not to be underestimated.
Operationally they will be able to do more and be far more bold when opportunities present themselves.
With rookies, in tricky conditions, for example, they tended to err on the side of caution. This year they can go for it and in such an unpredictable season, they might luck into a big result one day. They will certainly be ready, should the opportunity present itself.