Marussia seeking a lift from last place in 2012

2012 F1 season preview

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Timo Glock, Marussia MR01, Silvestone, 2012
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.

Marussia MR01

Marussia MR01 launch, Silverstone, 2012
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

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Images © Marussia

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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28 comments on “Marussia seeking a lift from last place in 2012”

  1. I really feel for Timo Glock. He’s shown some very good performances with Toyota and it’s a waste of talent that, for the third year in a row, he’ll be nowhere. I felt similar for Heikki Kovalainen before 2010, but their paths have gone very different ways, with Caterham doing a great job.

    Who would have thought his brilliant second in Singapore would be the last time he’d score points (at least for now).

    1. Yeah I agree- Timo is a lot better than this. He should be at Sauber or Force India, not at the back of the grid.

      1. Imagine he at Caterham together with Heikki. instead of Petrov.

        1. Why to you think his that than Petrov? If i remember correctly Trully was beating more often than not.

    2. @enigma Glock knew what he was getting himself into, so much so he signed another contract. If he was that bothered I’m sure he would have at least looked elsewhere.

  2. So sad to see Timo in that dog of a car for another season. His career should’ve gone the other way after a very competitive era in Toyota… He deserves to be in a worthy car, but he’s taking too long to make the switch or maybe none of the teams ahead wants to give him the chance which is a shame.

    1. Well he was offered the Renault seat before 2010, wasn’t he? He refused it as it wasn’t clear whether Renault would stay in the sport, though Virgin wasn’t the safest option either. His career would’ve gone so much differently, he’d have got a couple of podiums surely in 2010 or early 2011.

  3. It’s just a shame Marussia has to start with the numbers 24/25 on their cars again. The team is clearly better than the Hispania team.

    Just look at the overal design of the cars: the MR01 looks like a more finished car than the F112 (by the way, clearly no one at HRT has ever called the emergency telephone number…). The MR01’s front wing looks like it has been developed over the course of the winter, but the F112’s looks like it’s their first drawing of a front wing. Also the exhaust on the HRT look as if they had finished the overal design, and then realised that the exhaust rules have changed for the new season!

    Finally, the HRT-people shouldn’t make decisions that make the team more Spanish, but decisions that will result in a faster car, like Marussia does. I really hope Marussia will kick their asses even more than in the 2011 season!

    1. (by the way, clearly no one at HRT has ever called the emergency telephone number…)

      Well, I doubt Porsche worry too much about the name of one of their more famous cars either.

    2. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
      12th March 2012, 19:51

      The thing is that they clearly aren’t the better team, to paraphrase Mark Zuckerberg,
      “if they were better than HRT then they would be better then HRT”

      1. Perfect.

      2. Very true. They’re so much better than HRT but they’re outraced everytime.

  4. Their best hope of scoring the decisive result to improve from being last might be both HRT and Caterham suffering KERS issues in a bit of a chaotic race.

    On the other hand, the fact no one expects them even to regularly beat HRT on track now could give them a bit of an underdog advantage and much needed boost in spirits.

    1. I don’t get where this comes from. I fully expect them to be faster than HRT. Actually i think their difference to HRT will be bigger than it ever was. Last year HRT kind of closed the distance in speed but now Marussia will open it up.

      People forget that this car was not build based on Wirth’s crazy assumptions but on a more solid base. Also they improved their facilities and they have a partnership with Mclaren. Sure those things weren’t fully taken advantage in the build of this car but is still a solid base and will help for development.

      Cosworth engine and lack of KERS are their big minus points along with the fact that they needed big changes and so they didn’t have as much time as they wanted with the resold of losing testing and stuff.
      Cosworth is a minus not because of power but because of packaging and how it effects the aerodynamic shape of the car.

      Anyway some may think that Marussia being late with the car and losing testing makes them even worse than HRT but i have no doubt that this is the best car they have build and it will get better as they go through the year.
      HRT will not be close this time.
      The three new teams will not be close to each other. Each of them will have a little distance from each other. Caterham from Marussia and Marussia from HRT. They will all be running a little in their own races with the exception that depending on track and development Caterham will start to knock on the door of the more established teams every now and then.

  5. Ferrari, please fire Massa and get Timo. He will do a much better job and not trouble Alonso as well.

  6. There are only two positive things for this team: Timo Glock and the McLaren technical support deal because other than that they are no better than HRT in my opinion

  7. I think it’s easy to put Marussia and HRT in the same category, as neither has progressed much over the course of the last two years. But both are for different reasons.

    If the Virgin team hadn’t got involved with John Booth’s silly idea about creating a car entirely using CFD, then they would probably have moved further towards Caterham (probably not as quick though), as opposed to languishing at the back with the likes of HRT.

    I want both teams to do well, but I honestly think that Marussia will be noticeably faster than HRT this year. Their car does look quite a bit more developed, and despite their bad winter, I think that they have improved somewhat. I mean, you really only have to take one look at both of the respective car’s front wings to see the difference in development.

    1. John Booth’s?

      1. Wow, I have no idea where that name came from lol. I meant Nick Wirth, of course :P

    2. I think… part of the issue is that for at least the first two seasons, both teams are the only ones running at about $40m or less budgets. Whereas Caterham has a considerably healthier budget of $60m. How Marussia taking over effects this? I dunno. But so far that’s probably what has hurt them the most by far.

  8. Everyone keeps blaming Wirth’s all-CFD approach for Virgin’s misfortunes. Still, I fear the blame for their poor form is mostly down to money, or -more accurately- down to the complete lack of money.
    Virgin Racing made no secret of the fact that they had the smallest budget of the whole grid, and it showed.
    According to Racecar, Wirth spend 17,6m pounds for CFD, a budget that according to Scarbs, and I’m quoting here, is “well below other mifdield teams..!”. So not only Wirth had less tools, the ones that he had were not good enough. Had Virgin had enough money to burn, they wouldn’t have contested the World Championship with shopping carts, CFD-only or not. So, their prospects for 2012 boil down to this: whether they have enough cash, or not… And judging by the sponsorless MR01 and the the fact that Marussia is just a (very) small time car manufacturer, I’m not that optimistic…
    And another thing: according to an autosport interview Pat Symonds gave a couple of months ago, the wind tunnel model for the MR01 was going to be ready by March, so it’s safe to assume that MR01 is also an all-CFD affair…

    1. Obviously the money is a huge factor, but I still don’t believe that CFD is advanced enough to compete properly with the more proven technology.

      Also, their wind tunnel model may not be ready until March, but they also have a technical partnership with McLaren. I’m not expert on the partnership, but that might have assisted with the building of the car for this year.

      1. True. CFD is not advanced enough and as soon as the wind tunnel data start coming in, they will be able to develop their car better. The McLaren partnership, will (at the very least) give them access to their facilities and simulators and thus improve their efficiency in further developing and setting their car up. Also, Symonds knows how to build good cars and has more recent F1 experience than Wirth.
        Still, windtunnels, tech partners and celebrity engineers cost money and may stretch their already small resources even thinner… They probably have more money than last year, but do they have enough to make a real difference?

  9. I think Marussia’s best chance for success is this weekend. Even if they haven’t tested the MR01 yet, beating HRT to 11th overall is perhaps the most realistic proposition for them this season. HRT haven’t tested the F112 either, so I think it’s going to be a really interesting race at the back of the grid to see who can bring themselves up to standard – especially since some in the paddock (ie Ferrari) are predicting that it will take as many as four races for to get a clear idea of who is running and where. Australia has produced some chaotic races in the past, so I think Marussia really need to capitalise on this. One good result in a race of attrition could make them untouchable in the standings for the rest of the season – even if the rest of the year is dismal.

    1. That is if they last the race distance. The MR01 is a completely different beast, compared to its predecessors and it’s bound to have a few teething problems. The F112, on the other hand, is a 3 year old Dallara in drag, so it should be reasonably sorted-out, reliability wise. Then again, HRT will probably have completely different crew, compared to the last 2 seasons, so that will even things out. Finally, everything I just said is unfounded, hypothetical and -probably- completely wrong! Still, I too am curious how this “battle” unfolds!

  10. I’m hoping that this season I’ll feel a bit of something for Marussia. Branson’s distinct lack of interest doesn’t help foster any emotion in me for them, but at least with a manufacturer behind them now things might seem to have a bit more of a focus.

    It should be interesting to see how they fare up now that they’ve gone for a more traditional role when it comes to evaluating their aerodynamics. Unfortunately I think Caterham will be too far ahead to really be threatened by them and no doubt Marussia will have teething problems internally.

    It doesn’t even seem viable to see where they are against Caterham when it comes to lap time differences this year when compared to last, given that Caterham will have KERS. That will just distort things.

    Basically, if they do improve, I doubt we’ll really notice it.

    I wish Pic the best of luck and I hope that his career isn’t over come the end of the season.

  11. I think that they have improved somewhat. I mean, you really only have to take one look at both of the respective car’s front wings to see the difference in development.

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