Caterham vs Marussia round two looms for 2013

2013 F1 season

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The scrap between Caterham and Marussia for the valuable tenth place in the constructors’ championship provided an engrossing storyline in 2012.

We look set to get a repeat in 2013 as early indications are F1’s newest teams have remained closely matched on pace but aren’t yet on a par with their better-funded rivals. Their fastest times in Jerez were separated by just one tenth of a second.

Max Chilton set Marussia’s fastest time with a run on soft tyres at the end of the third day. “We managed to get a quick new tyre run in, which was really nice for the team so we got to see the actual potential of the car and it went really well,” he told F1 Fanatic.

Caterham did much the same 24 hours later with Charles Pic, who beat Chilton’s effort by 0.121s. But that was over 1.2s off the next slowest car, the 2012 Williams, and a further second off the next.

Both teams have new driver line-ups this year, with Pic joining Caterham from Marussia. He was reluctant to draw comparisons between the two: “I think it’s two young teams who are working very hard to progress,” he said.

The remaining seats are occupied by three rookies who have graduated from GP2. Giedo van der Garde finished sixth last year and partners Pic, who was his team mate in the championship in 2011. Championship runner-up Luiz Razia has joined Chilton at Marussia.

The fact that experienced drivers such as Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock have had to make way for them has provoked fresh debate over the prevalence of “pay drivers” in F1. Marussia made it plain that replacing Glock was a decision taken purely for economic reasons.

Marussia are the first team to head into a season with an all-rookie line-up since HRT three years ago. The lack of experience in their driver line-up is likely to slow their development rate in testing, particularly as they enter their first season using a Kinetic Energy Recovery System.

“I’ve driven five or six days in an F1 car before,” said Chilton when asked about the learning curve he faces in the car. “The hardest part is getting used to all the controls.”

“At the end of the day a car, it doesn’t matter how fast it is, they all handle with understeer or oversteer you just get used to finding the limit pretty quickly. So it’s just learning the controls and obviously it’s the first test, the team have to learn how the car is working and just getting everything set up first.”

Pic had an impressive rookie season at Marussia, pushing Glock hard at times, and Caterham will be relying on him to keep their closest rivals at bay. The CT03 is outwardly similar to its predecessor – starting the season with a reliable car and a more experienced driver could prove decisive for Caterham.

Marussia have made greater changes with their MR02, which is the first car they’ve designed from scratch using a wind tunnel. They can take comfort from the fact they were a match for Caterham on pace without KERS last year. Now they have it a key vulnerability has been removed, though early season reliability will be a concern.

A points finish would feel like a victory for either team. While it’s true they came close in the last race – Caterham 11th, Marussia 12th – that was thanks largely due to an above-average number of retirements.

While getting on terms with the midfield has to be their ultimate goal, it remains to be seen whether it’s realistic for this season. New Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul has wisely avoided publicly stating the team are targeting top-ten finishes in the races. For these two teams, finishing in the top ten in the championship is likely to remain the greater concern.

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Image © Caterham/LAT, 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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45 comments on “Caterham vs Marussia round two looms for 2013”

  1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    14th February 2013, 10:42

    With the amount of hectic racing last year, and Pirelli’s tires being even softer this year, I think both could finish the year with a point or two. Especially if there is a wet race.

    Speaking of which, @Keith Collantine , when was the last time that every team finished the year with atleast 1 point?

    1. @tophercheese21 2009, before the 3 new teams entered the sport in 2010. Every team scored in 2009, with Toro Rosso last in the constructors’ championship.

      In 2008 Super Aguri didn’t score points but they only did a few races. I think Force India didn’t score either (could’ve in Monaco!).

      And 2007 is a bit strange – all teams scored points (Spyker only one in Fuji), but McLaren officially scored no points as they were DSQ from the championship.

      1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        14th February 2013, 10:49

        Ahh. Right. Thanks!

    2. I would assume 2005 because of that shambles at the us gp

      1. Minardi didn’t score there.

        1. @optimaximal – Except for their cars that finished 5th and 6th.

    3. Historically speaking it is rare for every team to score points in a championship year. The first time it ever happened (I think) was 2002, and it happened again in 2004, 2005 and 2009.

      As @Enigma says above, it would have also happened in 2007 had McLaren not been disqualified from the constructors’ championship.

      Obviously before the mid-1990s or so we had many more teams in F1, some of whom didn’t enter all the races in a given season, and points only went down to the top six so it was harder for the smaller teams to score points. But it does show that having some teams that never score isn’t unusual in F1 terms.

  2. I start to think, why do we need such teams in F1, which always drive at the back of the grid and it doesn’t seem to change soon. They even can’t employ proper drivers (except Pic). I prefer quality over quantity.

    1. A bit narrow minded this!! It took Red Bull’s billions 5 years to get to the top so even well funded outfits struggle. These teams are making progress with their meagre budgets and are closer to the established teams each year. Its a big ask and they are doing a sterling job!

      1. And red bull didn’t even start from the ground up. They bougt spyker. Hired newey. Spend billions and it still took them five years and a massive rulechange. So all in all i think that the “new” teams are doing quite well.

        1. Red Bull bought Jaguar, who in turn had bought Stewart, who were funded handsomely by Ford.

          Force India bought Spyker.

        2. @mads

          Red Bull didn’t buy Spyker, Force India did. Red Bull bought out the Jaguar operation, but they basically had to strip the team back and rebuild it from the ground up. They effectively bought nothing more than a bit of factory space and an entry ticket. They literally bought the team for a single dollar in return for assurances to Ford that they would invest properly into the team and bring it back to being a decent constructor. despite this, their first car after purchasing Jaguar managed to score a fourth place on its debut.

          I don’t think you can really compare Red Bull to Caterussia though. They really don’t have any proper resources when it comes to development, and of course Red Bull were able to take advantage of the last few years of high level track testing. The situation is different now, and I think that these little teams have proven they can work in a professional, safe way, building reliable cars capable of getting broadly on the pace required by F1. As was suggested by, I think, Bernie Ecclestone, if you gave every team a pair of Caterhams to race, saving hundreds of millions, what spectator would even notice the difference? Certainly they’re way closer to the pace than some of the minnows of yesteryear; People often mention the days of 30 odd cars on the grid, but half of them wouldn’t make half the race distance, and the rest that did would be several laps down before they even made their final pitstop.

          What is disappointing is the total lack of progress they’ve made in the years they’ve been competing. You would expect by now that they would have made up the defecit and would be solid midfielders, especially in this period of relative stability in the rules. I do think that 2014 may deliver quite a good shake up which may be what it takes for these teams to finally get into the points. The question is whether they will be able to maintain that position going forward.

          Otherwise it’s a hell of a lot of money to spend on always coming last.

          1. “and would be solid midfielders”

            you cant have all teams be midfielders. the term would lose its meaning.

      2. But they were fighting in the midfield instantly. And it’s hardly that Caterham and Marussia will be fighting midfield in the coming years, unless they will acquire bigger budgets. And driving 1-2 seconds slower than other teams and fighting just between them adds nothing to the spectacle.

    2. why do people even race against Usain Bolt if they know they are not going to win?
      Sauber, Williams, STR, Force India and even Merc know they are very unlikely to fight for the championship, so why even bother racing?
      Lets just have McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and maybe Lotus… That would be quality over quantity woulnd’t it?

      1. I didn’t say, that Caterham and Marussia should be winning, but they are not even fighting midfield teams.

        1. to take the analogy – why do people from all over the world partake in the Olympic running when they know they won’t even make it to the finals? Because they want to improve their efforts and some can be satisfied when they even make it to the olympics, some can be happy about getting in the semi-finals, and some can be proud to have been only .0-something slower than bolt.

        2. I think you’ll find that certainly Caterham will be closer than they have ever been to the established teams and could prove a thorn in the side of STR and FI this year. Any slip ups from those teams could see Caterham (perhaps Marrussia too) pouncing. I think both of these teams have wiped their faces so far. They have spent their first 4 seasons getting used to life in F1 and building resources and a sustainable business model. Caterham has aligned itself with Renault on several levels now which will bear fruit going forward. They’ve been getting their houses in order before they join the rest of the grid spending ridiculous sums on 72 iterations of their front wing per season. As such I only expect to see progress going forward from this point in all fairness.

      2. Ah, when you wrote

        why do people even race against Usain Bolt if they know they are not going to win?

        it got me off track for a while – but I think you hit it perfectly. To try and win non the less. Or at least take him/his records as their target for where they want to be at. It is a sport.

    3. wouldnt say pic’s a ‘proper driver’ either. he still brings money and i wasnt impressed by him at all last year

      1. I would say that Pic did show he is not out of his league last year, after all (as Keith writes in the article) he did give Glock a run for his money last year.

      2. Would you call Timo Glock a proper driver? By the end of last year, Pic was largely on the same pace. What more could a rookie do in last year’s Marussia?

        Just because someone carries sponsorship doesn’t make him a second-rate driver, just a modern one, I’m afraid.

  3. Bring it on!

  4. I really hope the stability in the rule brings Caterham and Marussia into the pack this year, its always depressing knowing the majority of the cars/drivers who will always be last in quali and run around on their own at the back for the whole race.

    Don’t get me wrong, the more variety in F1 the better but when you are fighting to get a single 12th or 13th place finish in a whole season and spending as much time moving out of the way of front runners as racing I don’t see the point and I don’t see the sponsors being willing to keep funding teams that make no meaningful progression

    1. LoreMipsumdOtmElor
      14th February 2013, 11:16

      I believe I have seen more Caterhams and Marussias on TV last year then I’ve seen Toro Rossos.
      Airtime is valueable, even if they’re not competing with the big ones.

  5. Ironically, I think this is going to be some of the best and most competitive racing on the grid!

    1. “Best” may not be the word, potentially with some sloppy driving from the Rookies.

      But most competitive, I agree… Marussia look like they’ve caught up a tad more to the Caterhams!

  6. I think they can do it. Yes, they have inexperienced drivers, but given the right conditions, even the HRT could finish 13th.

    It’s a game against the odds, but I guess everyone would be happy if these two score points !

  7. It is such a shame that HRT are gone. I will really miss them.

    1. Well they might be back in 2014, albeit under new management, in the form of Scorpion Racing. I read recently that HRT have sold of all of their team assets, but that doesn’t necessarily rule out a comeback. And 2014 might be the perfect opportunity for a new team to hit the ground running, what with all the new regulation changes.

      1. no, today Spanish papers informed, that all remaining assets have been taken over by a company specialized in the liquidation of old car parts. They are planning to use the cars to either sell them complete or as parts to collectors, and the furniture to whoever wants it.

  8. 2013 really needs to be the year that these two teams close the gap to the rest of the field, but it doesn’t look promising. Caterham seems to have made very few modifications to their car from the previous season, the CT01, although apparently they have more parts in development (a new rear wing, front wing and a diffuser if I remember correctly). Marussia seem to have made more progress in terms of their car, what with the newly designed chassis, but are fielding two rookies for 2013 (one of whom is a pay driver) which won’t be very helpful in developing the car over the season.

    I don’t know how much longer these teams can continue without meaningful signs of progress. Fighting for 10th every season won’t cut it for much longer. They need to be challenging the likes of Williams and Toro Rosso soon, otherwise I fear it won’t be long before they join HRT on the rubbish tip.

    1. I agree. I fear for the future of both these teams unless they make significant progress this year. It would be a terrible shame to have more teams drop out, with no new teams to take their place.

  9. I was disappointed by how far Marussia and Caterham were off the pace in Jerez. Even though Cyril Abiteboul mentioned that it’s much harder for the established teams to find a few tenths than it is for them, I did not see much evidence that they had gotten any closer to the teams in front. It will be interesting to see how far off the pace they will be in Q1 in Australia, now that many, if not all of the faster teams will have to run the super softs, as there are only 4 ‘automatic’ eliminations from Q1 this year.

  10. I hope that Marussia can continue it’s form from late last year and take the fight to Caterham. It really was a bitter blow for them, losing 10th in the constructors at the last race. I can’t say Caterham didn’t deserve to win in, but Marussia defintely deserved it more, and needed it more, to boot. Signs from the recent test are encouraging, though, and for them to reveal their new car ahead of an established team when in the past they had virtually no on track testing at all is a very postive step ahead.

  11. @keith. How the positions in the constructor championship are decided for the teams that have not scored a single point?

    1. highest finishing position during the season.
      Caterham finished 11th in Brazil which them on top of Marussia that had finished 12th in another race somewhere, (Singapore maybe)

      1. **put them

  12. Glad that someone at Caterham is at last honest regarding expectations and potential to actually meet them. Also it’s admirable that they confessed they over-hyped their chances knowing their weren’t really in a position to fight the midfield. Maybe they realized that constant talking about big goals and constant not achieving of said goals is not only giving them bad press and disappointing fans but also puts off sponsors. To some extent, talking big and achieving small might have cost them potential sponsors backing and by extension resources which should be put into use to chase the midfield. In the end fending off Marussia is not what they should have been going through in their third season while having obvious technological advantage.

  13. Looking at the time from Jerez, and say what you like about test times & fuel etc, but its obvious Caterham are still 1sec off the pace and they seem to be leaving Marussia further behind and will be in a race all by themselves this year.

    I liked Caterham as a team right from the start when they were Lotus; it just seemed to be a team with a personality and racing spirit. I was lucky enough to drive a Caterham once, and think I would support any team with an association to the most fun car I have ever driven.

  14. Is it a rule that each team must enter two cars? I’ve been thinking that these smaller teams might be better served throwing all their resources into one car, saving all the costs, and trying to progress. Then grow into a two-car team.

    1. Is it a rule that each team must enter two cars?

      Yes. This rule was included in the regulations in 1988. Article 13.6 from the 2013 regulations:

      No more than 26 cars will be admitted to the Championship, two being entered by each competitor.

  15. Much like previous years, it’ll probably take a manic race, probably in the wet or at Monaco, for Caterham and Marussia to get anywhere near the points. This is especially true considering that both teams have raw driver line-ups. Both would take 10th place with both hands right now, but points, let alone competing with the midfield, seem a long way off.

  16. It seemed that Marussia had the aerodynamic upper hand last year. Aero has consistently been a problem for the green guys. Until they get that sorted, and now reportedly the front was stuck down pretty well last week but the rear is squirrelly, they have more to do. We’ll see if the good mechanical grip from last year remains.

    Drivers likely don’t matter much at this point so might as well take the cash.

    I’m warming up to Cyril with his response to the comments about the exhaust at Jerez. Still miss MG though.

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