Almost two months on from Jules Bianchi’s crash in the Japanese Grand Prix, that traumatic moment seems to have finally ended Marussia’s struggle against the odds in Formula One.
|Best race result (number)||9 (1)|
|Best grid position (number)||12 (1)|
|Non-classifications (mechanical/other)||4 (1/3)|
|Laps completed (% of total)||1,523 (65.42%)|
|Laps led (% of total)||0 (0%)|
|Championship position (2013)||9 (10)|
|Championship points (2013)||2 (0)|
|Pit stop performance ranking||11|
Bravely, the team continued to Russia for what proved a swansong appearance with a single car for Max Chilton. Shortly afterwards it went into administration, and before the season was over the team ceased trading.
It was a cruel end for a team which had punched above its weight thanks to a brilliant drive from Bianchi in Monaco. An opportunistic pass on Kamui Kobayashi helped to finish eighth on the road, which became ninth after a five-second penalty for lining up in the wrong grid slot.
Marussia went into the season hoping to repeat their 2013 result of tenth place, but Bianchi’s result lifted them to a best-ever ninth in the championship at the end of the year. Two consecutive top-ten finishes ensures a greater slice of F1’s prize money, one which should have been sufficient to safeguard their position in F1. That it isn’t provides yet more evidence of why F1’s smaller teams are under threat of extinction.
In a recent interview Chilton shed new light on how the team spent much of the season concerned it wouldn’t make the next race. However he did not shed further light on the strange events of Spa, where Alexander Rossi was initially announced as his replacement, upon which Chilton said he had ‘voluntarily’ relinquished his seat, only for the pair to swap back again after practice had begun.
Nonetheless Marussia’s usual form was for Bianchi to race just in front of Kobayashi and Chilton to do the same with Marcus Ericsson. However there were occasions, particularly early in the season, when Bianchi’s zest for racing with the likes of Sauber and Lotus appeared to get the better of him, resulting in a few needless collisions.
Chilton committed the worse offence in that respect, however, ending the team’s participation in the Canadian Grand Prix on lap one after hitting his team mate.
Although Marussia’s start to the season was compromised – the MR03 didn’t appear until day three at Jerez and a computer virus attack hampered their second test – they enjoyed considerably better reliability than their rivals at the rear of the field. However the team’s shortage of funds appeared to have the inevitable effect on their ability to develop the MR03.
With what they had at their disposal Marussia were always going to be underdogs this year. They deserved to reap the rewards of their giant-killing feat at Monaco, but sadly that seems unlikely to happen.
The team’s precarious situation was owed partly to the split from Russian car manufacturer Marussia Motors, whose plan to build thousands of sports cars was never realise and ended in the company dissolution in April. A place for the team remains on the FIA’s entry list for the 2015 F1 season, under its original name Manor.
This was the team founded by John Booth in 1990 which helped the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen up the single-seater ladder. It was rebranded as Virgin for its F1 entry in 2010 before the Marussia deal was arranged.
Some saw a ‘branding opportunity’. Others saw a team of passionate racing professionals – another one which F1 now appears to have lost.
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