Season Preview: Marussia

Having just lost out to Caterham at the final race in the battle for tenth in the constructors’ championship, Marussia will be looking to make amends going into 2013.

The team entered Formula One in 2010 as Virgin Racing, but struggled to establish themselves in the sport and have failed to score a point in three years.

After being classified last in the constructors’ championship in both 2010 and 2011, the team rebadged themselves as Marussia at the start of last season and a much improved car, under the direction of former Benetton and Renault technical director Pat Symonds, saw them fight Caterham all the way for tenth, only losing out to their rivals in the final ten laps of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Marussia will be running KERS for the first time this season, and with the team appearing to have improved their car over the winter, they will be confident of coming out on top in their battle with Caterham.

22) Jules Bianchi

A later than last minute signing, Jules Bianchi is one of five rookies on the grid this season.

The 23-year-old Frenchman comes to Formula One off the back of a distinguished career in the junior formulae, having won the F3 Euroseries in 2009 and challenged for both the GP2 and World Series by Renault titles.

Having lost out to Adrian Sutil in the fight for the second seat at Force India, Ferrari protégé Bianchi signed for Marussia last week after Luiz Razia’s contract was terminated due to his sponsors failing to pay money the team had been promised. With his links to the Scuderia strong, it is thought that the deal for Bianchi may include a cut-price Ferrari engine deal for 2014.

Despite having just one and a half days testing for his new team during the winter, Bianchi impressed in the limited running he had and, having outpaced teammate and fellow rookie Max Chilton by over a second, should be aiming to be the team’s leader on the track.

23) Max Chilton

Max Chilton is the second rookie in the Marussia team and becomes the fourth British driver on the grid in 2013.

Chilton finished fourth in the GP2 series last season after a year in which he won two races and showed promising speed, but despite those strong results in the feeder category in 2012, the 21-year-old didn’t stand out in the way that drivers such as James Calado did, with much having been made of how much that performance may have been down to his experience in the series. Doubts also remain over the Englishman’s racecraft.

There is also no doubting the fact that Chilton’s father has a lot of money with which to fund his son’s career has significantly eased his passage into the pinnacle of motorsport.

With the uncertainty over the second driver in the Marussia team rumbling on all winter, Chilton benefitted from more testing than anyone else on the grid, and with a strong teammate in Jules Bianchi, he will be needing to use that advantage if he is to stand out this year.

Hopes for the season
With Marussia and rivals Caterham being at a significant disadvantage to the rest of the grid, the main objective will be to beat the team that denied them to tenth last season and ensure they don’t end the year in last place.

The other big aim for the Banbury-based outfit will be to finally score their first point, but with a sizeable performance deficit to the rest of the grid, it’s likely they will need a huge slice of luck to finally record a top ten finish.

Stephen D’Albiac

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