Marussia finally reach the top ten – with two rookies

2013 F1 season review

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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 – in fact, all of the teams in Formula One – 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 ranking9

“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

Jules Bianchi15131519181716161819181618201817
Max Chilton17161720191419171917192017171917212119

Marussia’s 2013 season in pictures

2013 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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29 comments on “Marussia finally reach the top ten – with two rookies”

  1. I am a massive fan of Marussia. They are so determined to compete at the top level you cant help but love them. Caterham is too corporate for me. Even though they (can’t believe this) were beaten by HRT in their first two seasons, they showed resilience and determination.

    And I know this isn’t really important, but the car looks great and it was so refreshing to see a different design compared to all the other F1 cars. Here’s to points for next year.

    1. I am of the same mind. Caterham have so much more money, too. I’m excited to see what they can do next year with a (presumably) competitive engine.

      1. IDK if I’m a massive fan, but I too found myself rooting for Marussia and Bianchi all season. It would be nice to see a massive leap in speed next year to mix up with the back of the midfields…

        Caterham just don’t seem exciting to me sans that awesome green color they now use.

  2. What is also fascinating about Marussia is that their car and drivers have been so reliable. As a team they have had the least retirements of ANY other team on the grid, which for such a small team is an amazing feat!!!

    1. I’d argue that the battle at the back of the grid is almost as much about reliability as it is performance. As we saw this year, that battle can be easily one by just a single race with a lot of retirements (Malaysia) – the trick is to be both not one of those retirements, but the best placed car when that one event comes by.

  3. I feel like Marussia is nowadays Minardi. Always struggling for a place but always determined and humble. Only difference is I highly doubt Marussia’s drivers will end up in high-profile teams fighting for (and winning) championships, like many from Minardi did.

  4. Between 2010 and 2012 I have to say I preferred Caterham/Lotus to Marussia/Virgin. But this season I have really grown to have a soft spot for Marussia. They are such a plucky little squad and are so desperate to cling on to their right to compete, I love that about them. They have a cracking driver in Bianchi too, so here’s hoping that they manage to push on next season.

    1. I used to find them the least characterful. I think the loss of HRT (who, despite generally poor driver line-ups, I quite liked) has probably helped me be more accepting of both the backmarkers.

  5. A reliable season indeed! Only 2 retirements due to reliability issues for Bianchi (brakes and engine).
    I hope they can become a big team one day. You never know, right?
    And as long as Chilton’s money will aid the development, Bianchi’s driving will aid the constructor’s championship! ;-)

  6. I think the best has yet to come for Marussia, they are going to benefit from the collaboration with Ferrari which results of the whole powertrain, transmission and rear suspension, if they will finish 10th or higher next year they will enjoy even bigger prize money than they did this year

  7. Interesting fact. Their adoption of KERS this year means that 2013 is the first year that all the teams competing are running KERS.

  8. Surely losing HRT helped a bit too. No they weren’t a great team but still it was one less chance of someone getting the better. Caterham should have been dynamic like Marussia this year with the design but instead went with much of the same utilizing what they had gained from last year and due to the rules not changing expecting a years worth of progress to help further them in 2013 with just a slightly altered version. Yet Marussia were also helped by the McLaren applied tech and it showed with the quite different design at launch than many others. Jules Bianchi was no slouch and helped put the team above Caterham and it could be said that Max Chilton finishing every race this season was a nice safety net. I only hope that this sends them forth to be a faster team with help from the CVC winnings and Ferrari engines, I like the team and had big hopes for them and the other two. I’d love to see this back marker team finally be a mid tier runner.

    On a side note, I’d hope the scorn of lost money and losing in general will push Caterham to up their game as well. I worry for them though when it comes to the Renault engines, though a great manufacture they seem to be the best supplier after time has past into a certain engine era say a year or two and they tend to still have the occasional blow up or break down as we saw from I believe each Renault team this season, I don’t think Williams had a failure with an engine though.

    Either way I think Marussia may have a bit more to show next year, especially with Bianchi staying.

  9. Nice result for them, some say Caterham deserved that spot instead of Marussia but I can only disagree. In the back of the field there is only survival of the fittest and at the begining of the season Caterham used the old car, Marussia didn’t wait for them and took 10th in the standings at Malaysia and didn’t look back.

    It’s a pitty they need to finish 10th again next year before they can get the big money.

  10. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    3rd December 2013, 14:35

    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.

    COTD hehehe

    1. Was going to make the same comment :)

    2. Great line.

  11. I initially backed them for their novel CFD-based development strategy, wanting to see if their low(er) cost scheme paid off. But since they’ve ditched that and renamed themselves to some obscure Russian marque, i suppose i still like them as “the little team that could”.

  12. I’m saying this more from a standpoint of journalism – making a big deal about being in the top ten is a bit superfluous since there are only eleven spots.

    That being said, the first step towards the front is to not be last.

  13. As a finance guy, I will suggest them to build their brand and have team merchandise. They’re really important in F1.

  14. Would appreciate if the driver graph had contrasting colours.

  15. 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”.

    It’s the same game for everyone, they fully deserved it. Even more with such little money. Hail to Marussia, amazing work, hope they can build further on that!

  16. Jack (@jackisthestig)
    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…

    1. 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

  17. 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…

    1. Chilton is not my favorite driver by a long shot, but, I do give him credit for not binning it even one time during the season. There are other much more experienced drivers that cannot make the same claim.

  18. 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.

    1. @bullmello

      privateers were last seen in 1996 and most of them were slow moving roadblocks. I am glad we don’t have them any more.

  19. @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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