Jules Bianchi’s remarkable drive to 9th place in the Monaco Grand Prix gave his Marussia team its first world championship points and a huge boost to its prospects of staying alive in F1.
Marussia is one of a number of teams that are close to the edge financially and this result could turn out to be a lifeline.
“It is tough and I would be lying if I didn’t reflect that,” said Sporting Director Graeme Lowden.
The Banbury based team are in their fifth season in F1, the last of the three teams selected by Max Mosley’s FIA regime in 2009 to enter the sport for 2010. US F1 never made it and HRT folded.
Caterham, which was awarded a place on the grid after the others, is still around, but owner Tony Fernandes has clearly fallen out of love with the sport as the team continues to struggle and it is an open secret that he has put it up for sale.
Marussia is owned by wealthy Russian scientist Andrei Cheglakov (above with Bianchi), who was in Monaco to see the race. He has had to give the team hand-outs to keep it afloat and the fact that he can now see progress will probably increase his desire to keep supporting the team.
It could also yield valuable prize money at the end of the season, if it the team can stay eighth ahead of Sauber and Caterham, who have not scored a point so far this season.
“What we are really pleased about that it’s a sign of progress,” said Lowdon. “We only have 196 people. This is direct reward for people who have worked very hard.
“The money paid in the sport is based on results at the end of the season. We known from Brazil 2012 it can all change in a final moment. That had reprecussions in the tens of millions.
“We are only part way through this season, so we keep our feet on the ground.”
Jules Bianchi put in a stunning drive, starting on the soft tyres and pitting for supersofts with over 50 laps to go. He picked up places as others suffered misfortunes and despite dropping from 8th to 9th after a 5 second penalty was added to his race time, he said that improvements at the recent Barcelona test had given the team confidence that a good result was possible in Monaco. They were disappointed after qualifying, especially when Bianchi had to start at the back of the grid with a gearbox penalty.
“The car was much more balanced and that’s why it made it much better for this race,” said Bianchi.
“Now, we have to keep our feet on the ground. We scored points, which is good, but without good luck we won’t be able to be in the points.”