Marussia finally reach the top ten – with two rookies

2013 F1 season review

Jules Bianchi, Marussia, Sepang, 2013

If Kimi Raikkonen deserved praise for driving much of the season without being paid by Lotus, then Marussia surely is owed similar credit.

For it wasn’t until the end of October that the sport’s commercial owners agreed terms with F1’s smallest team, thereby giving them the chance to receive financial reward for their efforts.

It was a good thing they did as well, for Marussia finally broke into the top ten in the championship this year. A similar result next year would earn them a considerable windfall, though probably not as much as FOM’s favourite team gets just for showing up.

“It was a very strange situation when most of the teams in Formula One ?ǣ in fact, all of the teams in Formula One ?ǣ had an agreement with the commercial rights holder, apart from our team,” said team president Graeme Lowden, who explained how it compromised their business efforts.

Marussia team stats 2013

Best race result (number) 13 (1)
Best grid position (number) 15 (1)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 3 (2/1)
Laps completed (% of total) 2,101 (92.56%)
Laps led (% of total) 0 (0%)
Championship position (2012) 10 (11)
Championship points (2012) 0 (0)
Pit stop performance ranking 9

“It quite clearly would lead to questions when we?re looking at potential partners and sponsors for the future. Probably the biggest thing is that external perception in a way. We?re perceived to be on the same grid, in the same pit lane as every other team now and it?s just removed some of that uncertainty and allows us to focus on what we should be focusing on, which is going racing.”

On the track Marussia finally put one over fellow 2010 debutants Caterham (both having changed names since then). But team principal John Booth was generous enough to admit their rivals held the upper hand for “a large spell in the middle of the year”.

In that respect Marussia were fortunate Caterham didn’t get the chance to claim the single 13th place which would have reversed their positions. But Marussia were in front when it mattered – specifically in Malaysia, where Jules Bianchi came home over half a minute clear of the green cars having passed and pulled away from both of them.

Bianchi was a fortunate find for the team, whose driver plans had been thrown into disarray by a pre-season cash shortfall. That led them to jettison the experienced Timo Glock and briefly hire 2012 GP2 runner-up Luiz Razia. When his backing failed to materialise Ferrari Develop Driver Bianchi got the call-up.

With another rookie, Max Chilton, in the second car, Marussia’s ultimate result of finishing ahead of Caterham shines a little bit more brightly. Bianchi was decisively quicker than Chilton but both were dependable enough to keep bringing the car home.

This was particularly true of Chilton who, aided by unfailing reliability from his car and Cosworth engine, achieved the remarkable feat of finishing all 19 races in his debut season. Thanks to his and Bianchi’s efforts Marussia even completed two more racing laps than Ferrari over the course of the year.

The memory of losing tenth place to Caterham with half-a-dozen laps to go last year kept Marussia from taking anything for granted until the chequered flag fell at Interlagos. But with an eye turned to next year’s regulations overhaul, developments for the MR02 quickly dried up, making for a tense end to the championship.

“The last update we brought to the car of any significance was Barcelona,” said Booth, “so it?s been a long old season hanging on to that tenth place and it?s been pretty nerve-wracking to be truthful.”

“We?ve brought some small improvements and we?ve worked very hard at optimising what we have. I think we have gone forward but it would have been better to have two or three large upgrades through the season.

“But we are the smallest team and to build a 2014 car that has to be on the track in Jerez in January was a big feat for us and we?ve had to concentrate on that very hard.”

The team can look to the year ahead with a measure of confidence having already inked deals to retain Bianchi and use Ferrari’s V6 turbo and energy recovery systems next year. But the loss of technical consultant Pat Symonds to Williams midway through the season can only be a setback.

Marussia drivers 2013 race results

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2013drivercolours.csv

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Jules Bianchi 15 13 15 19 18 17 16 16 18 19 18 16 18 20 18 17
Max Chilton 17 16 17 20 19 14 19 17 19 17 19 20 17 17 19 17 21 21 19

Marussia’s 2013 season in pictures

2013 F1 season review


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29 comments on Marussia finally reach the top ten – with two rookies

  1. Jack (@jackisthestig) said on 3rd December 2013, 19:08

    It’s remarkable that a little outfit like Manor has been able to attract major investment from Richard Branson and then the extremely rich Russian chap behind Marussia.

    You tend to think of Caterham as far better off financially but it’s just Tony Fernandes’ own money rather than external investment. Their cars have plenty of logos on them but they are mostly all suppliers to AirAsia. You wonder what will happen to the team when Fernandes decides he just cannot afford to keep on blindly throwing endless amounts of money at both QPR and the Caterham F1 Team…

    • How do know its only Tony Fernanes money? Have you seen the contracts? Have you herd of EADS, its a parent company of a very big multi $billon company

  2. Jack (@jmc200) said on 3rd December 2013, 22:37

    Chilton’s such a pointlessly slow F1 driver, I really hope he isn’t kept. People going on about his record is nothing, none of Bianchi’s retirements were his fault, and he wasn’t half a second slower than his team mate (sometimes more) like Chilton. Bianchi was brilliant wasn’t he? So little time to get ready, he did more pre season testing in the Force India than the MR02! Only had one bad weekend in Japan but other than that he didn’t really put a wheel wrong, and was super quick. The car was a clear improvement. At first I wan’t Sutil to get the Force India seat but watching Di Resta easily outscore him made me wonder how fast Jules would have been with the higher pressure of the midfield…

  3. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 4th December 2013, 4:53

    Really have come to like Marussia more and more throughout this season. It started with them taking Bianchi instead going for another pay driver. The interview in their garage after the race in Brazil was inspiring. It looked like they had won the championship. They have excellent reliability, hope they find more speed in 2014. There are no more privateers in F1, Marussia is as close as we’ll get.

  4. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 5th December 2013, 15:45

    @full-throttle-f1 – Obviously, the huge corporate structure of F1 teams today does not lend itself well to privateers or Garagistas as Enzo Ferrari used to refer to them. Fortunately Williams and McLaren had their respective beginnings at a time when being a privateer was possible. The point is that is the spirit present in the Marussia team today. Did you see the interview in the Marussia garage after the Brazil Grand Prix when they learned they they had beat Caterham? It was inspiring.

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