Marussia’s fellow 2010 debutants have made measurable progress in the last two seasons.
Caterham/Lotus are on the verge of becoming credible midfield contenders. HRT’s progress has been more modest, but they are at least going into their third season with a considerably more experienced driver pairing than they had in 2010.
It’s easy to forget that Virgin (as it used to be) were on the pace of Lotus in their first season.
Since then matters appear to have become worse, not better. Richard Branson’s interest in giving proper funding to an F1 team was always suspect and so it has proved. Russian sports car manufacturer Marussia has taken over.
Car 24: Timo Glock
If Timo Glock had decided to change addresses for 2012, no-one would have blamed him. If any driver on the grid this year is worthy of a more competitive car, it is surely him.
His devotion to the cause is laudable but you have to wonder whether it’s in the best interests of his career. Not only has he been well out of contention for points, but beating a succession of rookie team mates can hardly be stretching his driving skills.
Car 25: Charles Pic
Charles Pic’s name now appears where Jerome d’Ambrosio and Lucas di Grassi went before.
The 22-year-old’s CV conspicuously lacks a championship win in a junior category. But he had a solid GP2 campaign last year and showed good qualifying pace, which could give him a chance of getting on terms with Glock, at least on Saturdays.
The team has made a break with the past in more than just its name. The Marussia MR01 marks a departure from their previous attempts to develop an F1 car without using a wind tunnel. Former technical director Nick Wirth was shown the door last year.
The team embarked on a new partnership with McLaren but is keen to play down the role it will have in their performance, at least at this stage.
“The relationship is starting to yield benefit as the advanced facilities that the Marussia F1 Team has access to have been used to prove the correlation process with the MVR-02″, said the team in a release when the MR01 was revealed.
“It is however early in the relationship and the MR01 will become a beneficiary of the relationship in due course.”
The team can also draw on the enormous experience of new technical consultant Pat Symonds – who left the sport under a cloud in 2009 following the ‘Crashgate’ revelations.
However the team has already suffered one setback as the MR01 took too long to pass the FIA’s crash tests and was unable to participate in testing. Glock gave the car a shakedown test at Silverstone instead, using demonstration tyres.
Though basic, the car looks slightly more developed than HRT’s F112, particularly at the front. The team continue with Cosworth power this year but will not be running a Kinetic Energy Recovery System. They will potentially be the only team without a KERS if HRT get theirs working as planned.
The team have been slightly unlucky to finish last in both seasons so far despite often having been quicker than HRT. Ending the year better than last must be their goal – but the same was true in the last two seasons as well.
2012 F1 season preview
- The 2012 F1 season in 20 questions
- Who will win the battle of the team mates in 2012?
- Marussia seeking a lift from last place in 2012
- Another season at the back looms for HRT
- Time for Caterham to join the midfield in 2012
- Williams hoping the only way is up in 2012
- Who’s got the best-looking car in 2012?
- All change at Toro Rosso, the Red Bull kindergarten
- The 2012 rules changes at a glance
- Sauber face tough midfield competition in 2012
Browse the 2012 F1 season preview
Images ?é?® Marussia