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Marussia forced out of final test after crash test failure
Marussia forced out of final test after crash test failure
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Feb 2012   |  10:33 pm GMT  |  120 comments

Marussia has become the latest team to run into problems with its 2012 car, the Russian-backed team tonight announcing that its new MR01 has failed the final FIA crash test and as a result forced it out of this week’s final pre-season test.

The Banbury-based outfit had been hoping to roll out the first car to be built in-house in time for the start of Thursday’s four-day test, having run with last year’s machine during the first Barcelona test last week. However, those plans have now been scuppered following news that the MR01 has failed the 18th and final crash test mandated by Formula 1’s governing body before a car can run in an official group test.

A statement released by Marussia tonight confirmed: “The Marussia F1 Team is disappointed to confirm that the planned first test of its 2012 race car – the MR01 – has been delayed as a consequence of not passing the final FIA crash test. All cars are required to pass 18 FIA-observed tests for homologation to be granted. Despite the fact that the MR01 has passed all 17 of the preceding tests, the regulations require the car to have completed all of the tests before running commences.

“The team will now not take part in the final pre-season test in Barcelona later this week (1-4 March) and will instead focus its efforts on repeating the crash test at the end of the week.”

With Marussia now hoping to get the chassis homologated by the end of the week, it raises the strong likelihood that, with just a further week to go before teams ship their cars and equipment out to Australia for the first race on March 18, the squad will go into the first Friday practice sessions of the year without any significant track testing with the new car. That is particularly bad news for its rookie driver Charles Pic, who already only has two days of track testing behind him in the 2011 car this year.

It’s a situation rivals HRT have found themselves in over each of its previous two seasons in the sport and the Spanish squad has again failed to test its latest car to date during this pre-season after failing two crash tests itself, although the team is now believed to have cleared the remaining hurdles and are therefore at least officially cleared to test at Barcelona.

Lotus’ chassis problems have proved somewhat more surprising given the team’s F1 pedigree, the Enstone-based outfit forced to abandon its programme last week at the Circuit de Catalunya after just seven laps in wake of a failure of the new second chassis.

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In my view, the biggest problem with Marussia and HRT is they are unstable and insecure. Because of this, they:

* Are unable to get on with their job as an F1 team

* Do not and cannot see any future improvement, so they end up running around at the back.

This is clear by the fact that HRT keep getting new liveries (I am unsure about their 2012 livery). And they change their names a lot.

For me, Lotus now seem a bit like this. They feel like a completely different team to Renault, when in fact, they are not.

Look at Honda (I think it was Honda (I am unsure, as I only fully followed F1 from 2010 onwards)). In 2008 they were nothing. Brawn came along and effectively took over, and dominated the 1st half of the season. Why? Because they were secure.

We just need to give these teams a few more years and (once they are stable) they should deliver points results.

If not by then – then we get rid of them.


I hope I’m not putting words in your mouth, but I can’t agree that having a car hit qualifying with zero practice tuning will perform as it’s same hypothetical counterpart having been practiced.


In season testing needs to return. Not only for developments, but also for 3rd and test drivers to get some experience.


This would only benefit the big teams with deep pockets and their own track.

Ferrari used to have practically an entire second race team just pounding around their track constantly.

Doing about a gabillion kms of testing a year certainly helped them out but is totally beyond the reach of most teams.


Was that a Schumacher era thing, or did it happen before that? And as for giving third driver experiance, all teams should be made to do this on Fridays I think.

On that note though, Luca Badoer did more mileage than any other third driver, and any other race driver, didn’t help him out though did it?


“Despite the fact that the MR01 has passed all 17 of the preceding tests, the regulations require the car to have completed all of the tests before running commences.”

They sound so hard done by, lips pouting like it’s not fair…


I like having underdog/small budget teams, seeing a small fish take it to the big guns is rare but when it happens is much more satisfying than seeing Schumi or Vettel on pole with the resulting parade to the finish. They are always capable of suprises, Arrows at the Hungaroring in ’97 as one example.

I just dont understand why they dont back the program up and start earlier. They literally cut it to the last minute. My guess is money and scheduling, but just an extra week would have increased the likelihood of attending the last test. HRT have done this 3 years in a row now. I dont understand all the mechanisms behind an F1 operation, but what do the investors hope to gain by such a half hearted effort? Tax write offs and schmoozing VIPs I guess, but certainly not competitiveness.


Hungaroring in 97 was the best race ever, just can’t believe Damon’s car blew it on the last lap. Still irks me that, it prooved Damon was one of the best (maybe not as good as Michael,but who was??)

I think Damon earned a lot of respect that day!!!


Prodrive would have been more competitive out of the box than HRT or Virgin/Marussia. Lola too. The auction for the last places on the grid a few years ago looks a bit short-sighted now. Perhaps Bernie felt he needed the extra cash for his daughters’ palaces more than the spectacle of better racing.

Perhaps there should be a rule that if a team does not score a single point in two seasons, then its place on the grid is up for grabs.


we need to return to unlimited close season testing its the only way for the smaller teams to get their cars anywhere near the start grid for the season opener.whether there is the money for them to actually do this is another matter.


In the era of unlimited testing, Jordan, Minardi hardly had enough resources to make use of all the “unlimited testing” that was on offer. The result, Ferrari went 24x7x365 on their private test track, their defense was of the Bridgestone runners, the other two teams don’t show up for testing as such Ferrari doesn’t get enough data as that of Michelin runners.

Not to mention Ferrari also had a Trojan in form Sauber to run with the Michelin teams so had good information about Ferrari Engine-Michelin Tyre combination.

As the Pink Floyd said its all about –


fair point , its interesting too that ferrari seems to be biggest loser under the present system.


Latest news from the BBC is that Ferrari & Red Bull cannot delay their four day test and will, therefore, take part with the other teams, on the original dates.

One wonders if this will affect their final preparations.


James do you think Lotus will make it ok for this thursday?

If so will the drivers again share track time or will Kimi get more time as the lead driver??


I imagine they will share it.


Interesting post as usual James what is your view on Marussi and HRT? Another year of making up the numbers?


As opposed to what – winning?


I like having all the cars out there regardless of there performance deficit. Sometimes when the racing is boring at the front we get to see a good battle back in the midfeild or an underdog having a good run. Eventually with the resource restrictions the gap should narrow.


Well I think it ought to be mandatory for all teams to attend one test session with a minimum number of laps covered otherwise the teams are sending a car out into free practice with default settings, and where the team lacks experience the problem is exacerbated. These “new” teams really do need to get adequate funding and resources in place. That is exactly what Caterham have done, and I wish them well, furthermore I hope they can realise the jump into the midfield all the hard work promises.


Teams should be allowed unlimited practicing until they make it inside 107% and get onto the grid.


I couldn’t agree more. Or even as a “new” team, 2 years less restricted practice or some such thing.

Imagine all the data Mclaren, Ferrari etc have available over the years as reference/background/experience to draw upon.


Tyres allocation is limited. Ironically both RedBull and HRT will get same number of Tyres, given the resources RedBull has one can imagine amount of data a RedBull extracts versus what HRT extract on allocated number of Tyres.

So unlimited practice time for last three teams while fair on paper isn’t going to happen.

And in case if FIA makes some regulation change to benefit the last three teams to make the battle interesting, next thing you know STR will start tanking races to finish final 3 and make RedBull young drivers data-mules before being humiliated and dumped in season or two.


No surprises here… move along.

Seriously! As James already told us – last 2 seasons clearly shows the “competence of all F1 teams”… but from my point of view HRT and Virgin are just “jokes”, they are in no way a serious F1 teams.

Just look at Virgin (ok, ok, Marussia… I simply don’t like this name) – it was just a toy for Richard Branson. He decided to play cars (possibly because planes and space rockets already bored him…), so he assembled a team, gave them some nice PCs to play with, 3dMax and told them to “draw up a 100% CFD F-1 car”… of course, after several years he became bored again (and now switched to underwater exploration)… and gave away his toy to another kid to play with (this time to russian-backed group of kids).

C’mon, it was a joke from the start!

I know, I might be too radical, but I would like FIA to impose strict rules regarding “new teams”.

Like a mandatory 5-year budget, through development plans for at least 3 seasons, base of operations with all required facilities, contracts (at least on final stages) with engine suppliers and wind-tunnel operators, external audit checks every 6 months (financial and technical)…

I would have eliminated such “new entries” completely, and there would be no such “insults” like US F1 and Cypher (remember them?)!


Think you might be beliving too much that Branson had a lot to do with Virgin – who entered the sport as manor. Indeed, Branson just paid a small sum for the naming rights. It was manor who went to Wirth, and Wirth who convinced them that to run with the budget cap, an all CFD solution was the answer…


For me, Virgin took a risk to design first all-CFD Formula 1 car. It could have paid out, but it didn’t. So now they have to redo all their previous work and get reverted to using more “standard” methods, such as wind tunnels etc. That costs resources and most valuably, time.

As for HRT they from the beginning had many problems not strictly related to Formula 1, such as ownership which AFAIR had already changed two time. Same with their boss, who is already a third one in third Formula 1 year. To start making progress, they at first need to work out all the paperwork, because only a stable and reliable team can successfully look for sponsors. All in all, in both drivers and staff lineup, they really don’t look as bad as their results are.



Of course, don’t forget “Super Aguri”! They are in the same row.


Don’t forget that the three new teams were all granted entry at a time when Mosley was basically parading around saying ‘all teams will be running on my tiny budget cap next year or else’.

Virgin’s plan was bold, extremely dangerous but cost effective – they brought a car to the grid with less money invested than anyone else (including HRT), largely by building the car entirely using CFD. It didn’t necessarily work, but I guess it proved you can run an F1 without building accurate scale models in an expensive wind tunnel.

The proposals you offer would prevent anyone joining the grid. The 5 year budget alone would preclude entry for everyone but a die-hard manufacturer team.

For the record, McLaren run their team largely on a year by year basis. They make very little (relative) profit next to Ferrari, Mercedes & Red Bull, so a lean championship year hurts them badly (see 2007 when they were excluded, which may go some way to explain the bad car in 2009) as they then get most of their money under Bernie’s historic payments.

Are you suggesting they should be barred from the sport because they don’t have the umpteen hundreds of billions set aside that would be required for a proper 5-year installed budget?


@ Dmitry – correction Super Aguri didn’t disappear. They were killed by the Parent team @Brackley when they showed better results than the parent team pretty much running old spec cars from parent company.

Last we had heard was Brackley team’s then boss called Fry was vetting the investors that Aguri Suzuki had lined up to present to the Honda Board. In their final season (punctuated mid-season), it was story of Aguri Suzuki lining up sponsors and Nick Fry rejecting them on flimsy grounds…

Last of the group were the corporate from India who were associated with A1 team India project who had finances to back Super Aguri team, the only condition was for Narain Karthikeyan to pair with Takuma Sato for more of Asian presence on the team.

Fry rejected the sponsors and shut down paddock entry for Super Aguri Transporters to enter the paddock at race meeting.

15-20 years down the line some one somewhere will unearth lots of interesting skeletons when the name Fry will be researched…..

Its just a matter of time


The ‘hundreds of billions’ was a tongue in cheek comment.


You are deeply mistaken about McLaren. Yes, they don’t have the money of Ferrari, but they do have big sponsors and investors.

I don’t agree also about the outcome of the fine imposed on them. Just look at the beginning of 2011 – they have created the problem themselves…

Also you are mistaken about “hundreds of billions”… even Ferrari, Mercedes & Red Bull doesn’t have such money… and in no moment was I speaking about such large ammount.

And the last. My proposal goes only to “new entries” (established teams every day prove they belong to F1, so the requirements for them clearly should be different).

The “core” of my proposal – is to ensure, that “new teams” will be contractually bound (and funded) to participate during the five year period. And they will appear on grid (unlike US F1), will have funds to develop they and won’t disappear after only a season (or two in case of Super Aguri).

And YES, if this means, there will be only 9-10 die-hard F1 teams on the grid opposed to 9-10 die-hard teams plus 2 “joke”-teams, so be it. F1 will be a better place in that case.


F1 prides itself on being the pinnacle of innovative design, but I sometimes feel that it is at the expense of the Sport, if the Sport is about the world’s best drivers in almost equal machines. The craft of an engineer or aerodynamicist should not be more important than the skill of a driver. A team with a smaller budget should still be able to compete. Still love F1, just my opinion.

Grayzee (Australia)

F1 has never been about “equal” cars. It has always been about having the fastest available drivers(at least in the top half of the grid)in the fastest machines that the worlds best available engineers can design, within a given set of regulations. Inevitably, how much a team can afford for all these components will play a big part( although buckets of cash doesn’t neccessarily win you championships, just ask ferrari) Innovation is the key.

An Adrian Newey or Vettel type of talent can only work for one team at a time.

So, there is always going to be “pecking order”.

This is what I find intriging about F1, and why I love it so much!


Formula one has always been about the manufacturers.

In the early days it was road car builders racing their products against each other to promote the brand. Then they started building specific cars for racing. This is when Enzo left Alfa to make a racing team that supported itself by making road cars. It wasn’t until after WWII that teams whose sole purpose was to win Grands Prix cropped up, but even then most teams were works teams for road car companies.

F1 cars are built to a formula, not a specification. The difference being that a formula set out limits on engine size and power, and certain allowable/unallowable features of the chassis. Then it’s up to the teams to come up with a car that meets the formula, and be faster than anyone else.

GP2, Formula Renault, F3000. These are all spec series where all the teams are using the same chassis, engine, suspension, etc. so the best way to win is with the best drivers, and support staff. And since the the machinery is the same from car to car, driver skill comes to the fore, and once a driver proves his worth there the teams from F1 scoop them up in order to have the best drivers draining the most advanced cars.

tl;dnr: F1 is about the cars. Spec series is about the drivers.


Make one wonder what the team is doing for the rest of the year. It’s doubtful they’re pushing the car to the last second in development in order to eke out another tenth. Surely they could have planned this much better. I thought Pat Symonds was involved now. This doesn’t sound like something he’d oversee.


Pat is involved


Isn’t Symonds still ‘advising’ as a ‘consultant’. I don’t think he is legally allowed to officially join a team for another year or two as part of his ban.

I guess it boils down to him advising the team on what to look at to fix Wirth’s ‘damage’.


forgive a question that’s not totally relevant but was it Wirth who put himself up as THE MAN WHO CAN when Virgin started? I’m sorry to see a fine driver like Glock enmeshed in this team that looks destined to stay at the back for the forseeable future


The whole “consultant” thing is just contractual wordplay.

You can appoint a “consultant” to do just about anything. The only difference is he gives you an invoice at the end of the month for his services.


Sucks to be them, for sure.

Did I miss HRT’s announcement about also failing crash tests?


HRT have passed all the crash tests and will be in Barcelona in some capacity.


The article clearly said they had failed “two crash tests itself”

And because this is the first I heard of it, my question was did I miss *their press release?

When and where was it announced? Or, was it a big secret?


It was announced just before the first Barcelona test I believe

Also Chris, where have you heard that HRT will be at Barcelona in some capacity? I’ve not heard anything to the like


All news sources have announced the fact that HRT have passed the tests, even HRT told all news sources about it.


Hi James,

What value (if any) do you think HRT add to the grid? Why do the FIA put up with their complete lack of competency?



Coz FIA has not kept on their promise to these teams that it will clamp down the operating budgets of F1 teams to 40M per year.

From the looks of it, while these teams are able to pull together 40M annually, that much money is not enough to run a competitive F1 team.


I used to wish for a day when there were 24 cars. Now I don’t care much. Too much to pay attention to in top 10 to care what’s even in the next 10. Never mind 21-24.


I could hardly agree less. My main interest in F1 has always lain away from the leading teams of any given era. I’m more interested in the idea of the smaller teams and the less established drivers having their minor triumphs and relative successes. Q1 and Q2 are always of more interest to me than what people insist on calling the “shootout” in Q3…


Neither HRT nor Marrusia will qualify for Melbourne. I often wonder what the point is for these 2 teams. Caterham clearly has a vision and are strongly motivated to improve the team and move up the grid but I don’t get the same sense from the other 2. They seem happy to simply be in Formula One.


Just a matter of times for Tony Fernandes to turn into Vijay Mallya….

Lots of murmurs about how Tony manipulated the Malaysian Govt in the success story of Air Asia.

Mallya and Kingfisher were doing the same thing in India, till their cover is finally blown up in recent months.

So just a matter of time…


Any news on when your twitter feed will be back up and working?


these new teams make f1 a laughing stock. This is pathetic from Both HRT and Marussia. Reminds me of the old days. They contribute nothing to f1 at all whats the point. At least Air Aisa makes a proper effort and are a decent looking outfit.

Everyone critises the idea of a three car team or major teams running 2 teams. At the end of the day more cars on the grid which are competitive the better.


Thank you for your usual point of view, Mr 3-Car Monte.


Hi James, will Lotus have to re-do the tests if they make major changes to their chassis to fix their issues?



I would imagine that this could possibly affect the wheel tethers anchor points, which if so, must need re-testing since they are defined safety areas. If not then they certainly should be.

Must have been a bit dramatic, reminiscent of Colin Chapamn’s era.

Tornillo Amarillo

As a new team, Brawn did it all in just one year from scratch.

A question James, how many chassis a team needs to pass all the 18 crash tests? 1, 2, 18…?


Honda pumped in money even after formally withdrawing from F1 as part of their exit strategy to meet lots of “contractual, legal” obligations. Fry/Brawn get too much credit than they deserve IMO, weren’t these the guys who were already in charge of the Honda project before the Honda exit.

Fry was around right after Dave Richards left the project at end of 2004 and Brawn was part of the project for almost two seasons before 2009 season.

Can’t deny the possibility of perfect scam in the Brawn story….


In fact a lot of the design elements from the BGP001 were actually slated to be on a Super Aguri, not a Honda. (Who snapped them up after SA folded.) look at the three of them side by side, and the heritage is obvious.


Landon, exactly. Very interesting timing Fry chose to pull the plug from Aguri Suzuki’s Super Aguri project,in spite of Aguri San presenting a reliable Indian Sponsor, who knows 2009 might have been the year of Sato-Narain duo.


Brawn wasn’t completely new team, it was built using Honda’s resources, both human and financial. The BGP001 was developed as a Honda car, which later caused problems when the team had to fit much bigger Mercedes engine into it.


Brawn did it all in one year from scratch?

Unfortunately HRT & Marussia don’t have access to an off-the-shelf race-winning car funded by a manufacturer who has just pulled out.

The most ridiculous comparison I have seen in a long time!


Brawn was *not* a new team. It was essentially the Honda with a Mercedes engine.


Just the one, as far as I know


James, totally off topic and please forgive the personal question, but after following your website all through the off-season like many people and grateful for the unceasing stream of ‘news’, I wondered: when do you manage to take a holiday?!! (‘Vacation’ to our American friends) 🙂


I fit it in. Just had a week over school half term with family skiiing in Italy, as it happens.


“The problem with Lotus’ 2012 chassis is the front suspension mountings, Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport has revealed.” according to SpeedTV website…

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