Marussia’s hopes invested in two rookie drivers

2013 F1 season preview

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Max Chilton, Marussia, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013The 2013 season was shaping up to be a promising one for Marussia. This was to be the year they would finally design an F1 car using a wind tunnel and it fit it with a Kinetic Energy Recovery System – both significant steps forward for the team.

With a more competitive car allied to the experience of Timo Glock, Marussia looked like they were set for a decent season.

But as the new year the team decided the numbers didn’t add up and the salaried Glock would need to be replaced by a driver who could bring in funds.

Luiz Razia was originally offered the job but his time as an F1 driver last just 23 days of the off-season before his contract was terminated as the money failed to materialise.

Eventually the team appointed Jules Bianchi alongside Max Chilton, giving them an all-rookie line-up – the first time any team has had this since HRT fielded Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok three years ago.

Bianchi and Chilton have shown promise in the junior categories but no one would pretend that starting a season with two rookie drivers is how a team would choose to go racing.

The MR02 looks conventional but bulkier at the rear than even the midfield contenders, let alone the cars at the front of the grid. The team are now alone as the only Cosworth user but no longer have the disadvantage of being without KERS.

In a major improvement from last year, the team not only made it to pre-season testing but appeared at all three sessions and got a decent amount of work done, though circumstances dictated that Chilton did most of it.

“Although certain aspects of our winter were quite challenging, the overwhelming feeling we take into the Australian Grand Prix is great optimism,” said team principal John Booth.

“In many ways we are in our best shape ever as a team and everyone is thriving on that and looking forward to what we hope will be a positive 19-race journey ahead. Our new package has performed well in pre-season testing, with encouraging signs in terms of performance and reliability.

“We also have two very exciting young drivers in the car. Whilst they are both F1 rookies, their combined depth of experience rising through the ranks in the junior formulae and in F1-supported young driver programmes leaves them well-placed for their debut season.

“It is still too early to fully appreciate the progress we have made for 2013, as that wide picture has a habit of revealing itself in Melbourne, but we make the long journey there this weekend feeling confident in our direction.”

Realistically, this is a team which is going to be contesting tenth place in the championship with Caterham as they did last year. But even without Glock they stand a decent chance of getting it.

Car 22: Jules Bianchi

Jules Bianchi, Marussia, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Given the cards Marussia were dealt, landing Jules Bianchi is a result. A rookie he may be, but he’s been driving Ferrari’s F1 cars for for years and has had a lot of seat time for Force India over there past 12 months.

Bianchi has only had a day and a half in the MR02 (he’s spent more time in the VJM06) yet the ease with which he got on the pace in testing and his pedigree from junior formulae indicate he will be the team’s lead driver.

But spare a thought for Luiz Razia, who was signed and dropped by the team in less than a month when his backing failed to materialise. It’s bad enough that F1 seats are being sold to the highest bidder, and even worse that a driver should suffer that kind of heartbreak.

Car 23: Max Chilton

Chilton has been propelled towards Formula One aided by his father’s backing. But he’s shown a turn of speed as well and has got to grips with each new level he’s moved up to, though in GP2 it took a couple of years.

By the end of his third season in F1’s foremost feeder category Chilton was a regular contender at the front of the field. But he’s under no illusions that F1 is going to be a significant step up, even though he has had more testing in this car than his team mate.

Marussia MR02

Marussia MR02, 2013

Marussia championship form

Championship position11

Marussia in 2013: Your view

Will having two rookie drivers hold Marussia back in 2013? How will they compare against Caterham?

Have your say in the comments.

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Images ?? Marussia, F1 Fanatic

Author information

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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34 comments on “Marussia’s hopes invested in two rookie drivers”

  1. I am hoping that this backmarker team gets up some spots! Just for the sake of argument that teams can start at the back and work their way up. In front of Caterham or the next one (what surprise would that be).

    We’ll see! I am just too optimistic :-)

  2. Bianchi has only had a day and a half in the MR02 (he’s spent more time in the VJM06

    – I would say that might even prove to be an advantage – He can directly relate to another car on the grid. And given that both have some McLaren support, its not impossible that he can have some positive feedback to use.

  3. Chilton is my bet for Reject of the Year. He might outqualify the Caterhams once in a while, but will run into trouble in the races. If Marussia DO score a point this year, it isn’t going to be Chilton.

  4. im excited to see how bianchi does, i have less hope for chilton

  5. petebaldwin (@)
    12th March 2013, 15:38

    It’s just such a shame the the battle for 10th spot is such a joke. They simply rely on there being a huge pile-up and rain and then whoever is in the right place at the right time wins.

    I hate it that Caterham (for example) could beat Marussia at every single race of the season except for one where there’s a huge pileup allowing Marussia to finish 12th and they’d get 10th spot even though neither scored a point. It should be based on average position.

    1. It’s just such a shame the the battle for 10th spot is such a joke. They simply rely on there being a huge pile-up and rain and then whoever is in the right place at the right time wins.

      Minardi vs Prost: 2000-2001 all over again.

    2. It’s not a joke at all. It’s two young, underfunded teams trying to make it into the points. Every team had to start somewhere. I don’t see the joke and I think it’s exciting to have Marussia and Caterham in F1.

      1. He doesn’t mean it’s a joke that 2 teams are fighting for 10th. He means it’s a joke that this 10th position is handed out based on sheer luck.
        Positions in the constructor’s championship are based on your total score of points over a whole seaons. in other words: consistency.
        But 10th position is decided by the single best finishing position.
        I don’t think that’s right. 10th position should be based on average performance over a whole season too.

        1. It is! They’re in the same championship as everybody else…

          If you score absolutely no points you go to higher finish. So score some points – one will do.

        2. I’ve reread Pete’s comments and you’re completely correct. Thanks!

    3. It should be based on average position.

      That would open up an unpleasant can of worms, one which would completely invalidate any meaningful results.

    4. I agree, up to a point. This all depends on weighting of positions, rather than anything else. If team (a) constantly come 17th and 18th, and team (b) constantly come 19th and 20th in a field of 20 running and all finishing, then in the event of failures further up the grid, it stands to reason that the expectation is that for xx number of failures/DNF’s the positions of team (a) will be 17th and 18th minus xx places, and team (b) will be 19th and 20th minus xx places. If, in these circumstances when xx is high for, say one race, team (b) can monopolise it’s championship place by beating team (a) in a single race, rather than over the course of the championship.
      Is this fair?
      As far as I can see, there are four alternatives for a sport like Formula 1, where nil points is a distinct possibility:
      1) allocate points for all positions. – This has the benefit of not altering the mechanism for leading drivers to have their positions calculated, as the weighting for the top ten positions could be kept, but you’d end up with ludicrous scores for the top teams. I don’t see this as ever happening.
      2) use, like your suggestion, an average position mechanism, but this cannot be used (or, at least is just as unfair as the current system)because of the unlikely, but occasional occurence of less than 50% finishing rate (in a field of 20). If one of our two teams was to enter the points on such an occasion, which, again is just a fluke occurence, then you cannot justify an average position mark overruling a points scoring finish. Otherwise the clamour to average out all positions to work out final championship positions. (The mechanism which has made this impossible is the weighting balance of points shifting around a couple of years ago to give higher weighting for race victories, which interestingly, if not implemented, would have made Fernando Alonso championship winner last year)
      3) Use a dual scoring mechanism, where the top ten positions recieve “merit” marks as they currently do, but the bottom five positions recieve “dis-incentive” marks. So for last place, ten, penultimate place, eight, etc. For any two teams on the same level of points, then dis-incentive marks come into play. The team with the higher set of marks comes lower. I actually quite like this idea, but, again, can’t see it happening. Which leaves the fourth option.
      4) Stop bloody murdering the sport that has given you a billionaire lifestyle Mr Ecclestone. Give more of the commercial monies to the teams, stop giving Ferrari their extra percentage, fix payments across a championship only rather than giving out shares to individual teams on what seems to be your personal whims, and for those teams who share 0 points, give a buffering payment on top of their championship payments to help keep them in the game over the following year. This is one of the great things about the English Premiership. They understand that playing in the premiership comes at increased cost, so if you come up and down again you get the parachute payment to try to stop you going broke. F1 should be doing something similar as it is in the good of the sport in the long term.

      Wow. Sorry for the essay…….

      1. slap my maths. Alonso would not have been champion last year using the old system, but it would have been even closer than it already was (1 point, I think!)

  6. Jules Bianchi has all the talent to be the next Fernando Alonso (what I meant to say was Alonso’s stint with the Minardi).. A decent year could see him take one of the slots of the midfield runners next year (Sauber??) if someone like Nico Hulkenberg go on to replace Massa at Ferrari..
    This is the first time since Kubica’s arrival have I been so excited about a Young Prospect entering F1

    1. I agree, hope to see him doing good races and maybe getting some points

    2. What about Bottas? I think he’ gonna pull a few surprises.

  7. Bye bye, Marussia. Without a pro like Timo – no chance in my opinion.

  8. I wish them all the luck. They seem to be passionate about what they are doing and show progress every year, unlike Caterham. And unlike Caterham, they are being very honest

    I will be cheering for them all season

  9. Timo and bianchi would been a very solid line up.

  10. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
    12th March 2013, 18:03

    It’s a shame they have Chilton and not Glock. Moving to Virgin/Marussia was one disastrous career move for Timo.

    1. What other option did he have? His team pulled out of F1 and other teams didn’t want him, or had their driver lineup sorted already.

      1. @baremans

        I read somewhere that Timo had an option to driver for Renault in 2010 but choosed not to as he was not sure the team would continue to exist after the crashgate scandal.

          1. @keithcollantine
            Thanks Keith! Better late than never…

  11. I’m getting very annoyed with people making judgement on rookies before the season has started. Before they have even had the chance to prove themselves, they’ve already been judged by some. Of course you can look at their results in the junior series, but that doesn’t tell the whole story: we have seen drivers that were unimpressive until they reached F1 (Kobayashi), and drivers who were impressive in the feeder series, but were very underwhelming in F1 (Pantano). Can we please start making rookie assessments when the season’s underway?

    1. Comments like these:

      im excited to see how bianchi does, i have less hope for chilton

      Chilton is my bet for Reject of the Year. He might outqualify the Caterhams once in a while, but will run into trouble in the races.

      1. Chilton is my bet for Reject of the Year. He might outqualify the Caterhams once in a while, but will run into trouble in the races

        So true I lol’d at the guy who wrote this , not max’s fault he has a rich father .

  12. Chilton is the worst pay driver on the grid this season, I say this because his performances on junior categories are the worst. The fact Chilton isn’t a champion shouldn’t surprise that much if you take in comparison some pay drivers of the past couple years. What impresses me the most is the lack of professionalism shown by Sky F1 in relation to Max Chilton status in f1. He is a pay driver, so why not speak freely about that, especially when Chilton is often interviewed by Sky? Why did Sky invited Chilton to the F1 Show just to criticize other pay drivers? I bet Chilton himself was pretty embarrassed afterwards.
    Honestly apart from facts there’s nothing to say about the rookies until they prove themselves on track, people have been raging about certain rookies like if their were the ones who got bumped out the grid. For those people just read the article and remain silent.

    1. Ouch :)

      1. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy watching the rookies impress, I just very upset with Sky.

  13. Still, I wonder what would’ve happened if they had better ideas to put into their CFD.
    Because a windtunnel only doesn’t give you those Newey- or Anderson- or Chapman-like ideas. It allowes you to verify them easier.

    1. @verstappen Surely there will come a point at which CFD is sufficiently advanced that you could design a competitive F1 car using it?

      And after that, isn’t it only a matter of time until you have a version where you input the F1 technical regulations and tell it to work out the shape of car that will produce the best trade-off of downforce and straight-line speed for a given circuit?

      1. @keithcollantine @verstappen I don’t want to start a conspiracy but John Booth claims Marussia added windtunnel technology, KERS, Pat Symonds and McLaren support, I know they had an okay season for someone without testing, Kers and with Cosworth. This season they added Mclaren support, can’t this technical partnership be beneficial for both in sight for 2014?

  14. At first I thought the car was ugly and rather plain but after watching some minutes of pre-season testing I love how the MR-02 looks, the tight rear end looks better than many, and the livery looks quite good in motion, especially with the launch engine cover. Only after pre-season testing I understood Gary Anderson’s appeal for the Marussia.

    I’ve had a good look at it, including under the skin and it is very well mechanically engineered. It’s neat and tidy with lots of nice bits and pieces on it. The bodywork is very basic, without turning vanes and other parts aimed at enhancing aerodynamics, but there is room for those to be added. It looks like a solid package

    It has a good balance judging by what I saw from Barcelona 2, but on the final day Bianchi showed how little downforce the car has, he struggled for downforce and looked less in touch with the cars adherence limits than Chilton.

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