No fairytale ending to tough season for Marussia

2012 F1 season review

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Marussia had a tough season in 2012. And just when it looked like coming good it turned sour in the final moments.

The season took a dreadful turn for the team when test driver Maria de Villota was seriously injured in a crash in July. De Villota lost an eye in the crash and her long road to recovery, involving many operations, has only recently concluded with her release from hospital.

Following de Villota’s accident Timo Glock scored an opportunistic 12th place at his favourite circuit, Singapore. That moved Marussia into tenth place in the constructors’ championship ahead of Caterham, potentially setting them up for a financial windfall at the end of the season.

It would have been a welcome boost for the cash-strapped team who were unable to get their new chassis on track at any of the official pre-season testing sessions.

But it all went wrong for them in the final race of the year. First Glock was punted out of contention by Jean-Eric Vergne.

Marussia team stats 2012

Best race result (number)12 (2)
Best grid position (number) 18 (1)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 6 (6/0)
Laps completed (% of total) 2,158 (90.52%)
Laps led (% of total) 0 (0%)
Championship position (2011)11 (12)
Championship points (2011)0 (0)
Pit stop performance ranking10

That left the team’s hopes in the hands of Charles Pic, whose forthcoming move to Caterham had been announced earlier that weekend. But as he made way for the leaders late in the race Vitaly Petrov took advantage and Marussia lost their grip on tenth in the overall standings.

It was an unfortunate end for the team in a season which saw them make slow but steady progress. They were unable to run the MR01 in the official pre-season sessions after it failed a crash test.

Having abandoned their attempt to design their car entirely using Computational Fluid Dynamics last year, Marussia eventually benefitted from wind tunnel-testing the car in 2012. Their lack of resources told in that it wasn’t until Silverstone that the first significant batch of parts developed in the wind tunnel appeared. But they yielded noticeable gains in the subsequent races.

At Monza the team got closest to the front-running pace in qualifying – 3.6% off the quickest time. Then came the high of Singapore. The team’s on-track improvements were bolstered by quick works in the pits – their crew turned around the seventh-fastest stop of all in the Japanese Grand Prix.

More significantly, in the races that followed they were increasingly a match for Caterham, and out-qualified them at the Circuit of the Americas. Their chances of holding on to tenth in the championship looked good until it swung away from them in Brazil.

“Disappointed’ doesn’t even come close,” said team principal John Booth after their 11th-hour defeat. “We made all the right calls and our strategy worked out perfectly, but in the end we lost out due to factors beyond our control.”

“As everyone knows, we had a tough start to the year and we were unable to complete very much at all in the way of pre-season testing. Notwithstanding a difficult debut for the MR01, we were able to hold on to tenth place in the constructors’ championship for the first five races, before it slipped from our grasp in Monaco.”

With the demise of HRT, Marussia look set to be the only Cosworth-powered team in 2013. They plan to introduce KERS on their next car which Booth hopes will allow them to build on the progress they made this year:

“Much has been made of closing the gap to Caterham, but at the same time we have reduced the delta to the mid-field and the front of the field. For example, in Australia the gap between our own fastest lap and the winner’s fastest lap was 4.5%, whilst in the closing stages of the season we have reduced that to 2.5% – again, without KERS. So if we reflect on our big picture, it is even more encouraging than may have been apparent.”

Marussia drivers’ 2012 race results

Timo Glock141719191814182221151712161820141916
Charles Pic152020201519202016161619192012

Marussia drivers’ 2012 laps per position

Timo Glock000000220141515397810684202139150911004228
Charles Pic00000001012111732215111012019225914455431

2012 F1 season review

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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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19 comments on “No fairytale ending to tough season for Marussia”

  1. Chalres Pic lost twelfth place to Vitaly Petrov in the last few laps of the race which would have been enough for Caterham to take tenth place on countback. That became eleventh plce for Petrov when Paul di Resta crashed out, but the damage had already been done. With Pic having been announced as Caterham’s new driver just hours before the race, one has to wonder how much of a fight he really put up when Petrov started closing in …

    1. PM, why do you always see conspiracies? Is it so hard to believe that professional racing drivers might, just occasionally, go out there and do their very best?

      1. PM, why do you always see conspiracies?

        Boredom, mostly.

        Is it so hard to believe that professional racing drivers might, just occasionally, go out there and do their very best?

        Sure, I can buy into the idea that Pic was aiming to do his very best – in 2013. With Caterham believed to be using the CT-01 again next year, the $30 million for tenth place in the Constructors’ standings would go a long way towards developing it since they wouldn’t have to spend money designing an entirely new car.

        1. PM, why do you always see conspiracies?

          Boredom, mostly.

          Welcome to the internet! :D

    2. With no disrespect to Pic, you do have to wonder. I don’t believe he did, though.

      Petrov had been quicker and fell behind Pic when he spun. So it should have been pretty straightforward for Petrov to re-pass Pic: his car was quicker and he had the benefit of KERS.

  2. I cannot imagine that Pic purposely let Petrov through. At the time, Pic was a member of the Marussia team and therefore he would have done everything he could to hold on to the place that was very important for Marussia. You can compare it to an office situation: if you’re leaving one company, you don’t mess things up on your final day (unless you seriously hate your boss, which I think is not applicable for Pic).

    1. @andae23 It wasn’t just about messing things up for Marussia, but Pic’s future team also got extra 17 million or so, which is a huge sum for Caterham. While Pic probably didn’t let Petrov through on purpose, I agree with @prisoner-monkeys that he likely didn’t put up his best effort either.

      1. Maybe I believe too much in the benignity of mankind, but at the time Pic was not working for Caterham, he was working for Marussia. And I don’t think Pic would do such an ‘evil’ thing to his current employer.

        1. True, but 17 million can get you a long way in F1, just ask Kamui.

          1. Which is fine, but he already had the seat.

  3. A-Safieldin (@)
    5th December 2012, 11:31

    I’m actually happy Marussia didn’t place ahead of Caterham, yes they did great this season all things considered but frankly I just dont get the impression that they’re here to stay, in Formula one that is. I just feel like Caterham is more likely going to be around in 5 or so years and this boost of cash will help them mix it up with the big boys which is what we all want to see.

    1. this boost of cash will help them mix it up with the big boys

      It didn’t help them in 2011, and it didn’t help them in 2012. So why is it suddenly going to help them in 2013?

  4. As I can’t see Marussia being a real threat to Caterham on track (Caterham has a faster car in general, plus KERS itself gives enough of an edge), I really doubt Pic let Petrov pass just to score some points with his new employer.

    I wonder whether Marussia made a progress or Caterham regressed in performance in 2012, though.

    1. @cyclops_pl More the latter than the former I’d say.

  5. I find it promising for Marussia that they managed to get closer to the front-runners still without KERS. Although Caterham seems to be a better team in every sense, if they start next year as they finished this one, Marussia will be genuinely fighting them for positions if they do use KERS and probably getting the better of it!
    Not sure if being the sole Cosworth team will have any impact, good or bad.

  6. Next year will be interesting, more then this year. I think I’m right in thinking that Marussia, under the guidence of Pat Fry, have a development path they are following, and with KERS next season. The flip of that, is that Caterham moved into a larger factory in the summer break, roughly around the time that Marussia started to close in on them. So Caterham with a bigger working factory (and the prize money to spend) vs Marussia with a clear development path under a proven hand. Like I said, I think it will be interesting next season.

  7. I hope either of Ferrari, Mercedes to Renault agree to expand their V6 services to Marussia for 2014. If not, 2013 could well be their last year.

  8. It’s pat symonds rather than pat fry who is at marussia

  9. Really, really disappointed for them a the end of the season. I wanted them to take 10th so much, not that I have anything against Caterham but it would have just been interested to see another team do something with the prize money. While Caterham have the money, Marussia seem to have more of a drive, more direction. With KERS next year I do think they will put up a stronger fight for certain.

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