2012 Marussia Team Review


World Champion
Marussia Racing

It’s easy to forget that Marussia were on the pace of Caterham in their first season.

Since then matters appear to have become worse, not better. Richard Branson’s interest in giving proper funding to an F1 team was always suspect and so it was proved. Russian sports car manufacturer Marussia took over, who were their main sponsor last season.

This year like HRTs looks to be a transitional year for them, as it’s the first time they are using the windtunnel for their car, they have new owners, and new personnel.

Timo Glock had been retained for the year. Good news for the team, as he’s an experienced driver, knows the team well, and is the type of driver the need to bring them up the field. But his devotion to the cause is laudable but you have to wonder whether it’s in the best interests of his career. Not only has he been well out of contention for points, but beating a succession of rookie team mates can hardly be stretching his driving skills.

Another rookie in to the team to side with Timo Glock, he is Charles Pic. The 22-year-old’s CV conspicuously lacks a championship win in a junior category. But fared well in his last GP2 season, brings in some money for the team, and is a young charger who could keep Glock on his toes.

The team has made a break with the past in more than just its name. The Marussia MR01 marks a departure from their previous attempts to develop an F1 car without using a wind tunnel. Former technical director Nick Wirth was shown the door last year.

The team embarked on a new partnership with McLaren but were keen to play down the role it will have in their performance.

The team can also draw on the enormous experience of new technical consultant Pat Symonds, who left the sport under a cloud in 2009 following the ‘Crashgate’ revelations.

The team continued with the outdated Cosworth powered engine for 2012 but were not running a Kinetic Energy Recovery System. This looked to be a setback due to their main rivals Caterham having KERS and the improved Renault engine.

The team have been slightly unlucky to finish last in both seasons so far despite often having been quicker than HRT. Ending the year better than last must be their goal – but the same was true in the last two seasons as well.
The team had a setback before the season started. The new car failed the mandatory FIA crash tests, and missed the second test of winter testing to sort the car out before the first race of the season. The car made its debut at a shakedown test at Silverstone before the first Grand Prix.

They started the season well with Timo Glock being the only finisher out of Caterham and Marussia, gaining a 14th place at Round 1 in Australia.

The team had another setback when their third driver Maria De Villota crashed heavily into the lift gate of the team transporter, and sustained serious injuries while performing a straight line test for the team head of the British Grand Prix. She lost her right eye as a result of the accident, and the team went on to further investigate the strange incident that occurred.

After that though, it seemed to be a quiet season for them. Caterham had the performance advantage over them, and were slipping away from them. The drivers were having their own races for the majority of the season, occasionally with a Caterham in the mix. But their big breakthrough came when Timo Glock finished in 12th ahead of two established teams and the Caterhams. This was crucial for their fight against Caterham for 10th place in the constructor’s championship.

The real story at Marussia was Charles Pics emergence as a F1 driver, with not much of CV in motor racing to brag about, he managed to be a match for the rated Timo Glock in his debut season.

The two drivers didn’t get along well, and there was a rift within the team. It all came from an incident in Hungary Timo Glock accused Pic of blocking him in Hungary.

Glock had this to say about the incident:

"Maybe he doesn't understand the English on the radio," the angry Glock said.

He insisted it was "pointless" to try to sit down with the 22-year-old, because the blocking had happened several times this year.

"It's up to the team to solve it."

They had a big duel in Spa, with Pic coming out in top. Pic showed that he was no pushover, and will push Glock all the way.

The team held on to the 10th place in the constructors, right up until the last race, where they had a big battle with the Caterhams, in a gruelling race.

Timo Glock looked to have had the 11th place for Marussia in the race until problems hit, dropping him to the back of the field. Pic and Petrov battled for several laps for 13th place. Pic stayed ahead of the Caterhams for most of the rest, getting challenged by both at different times, but then faltered 7 laps from the end when he backed off too much from a blue flag, and Vitaly Petrov moved to 11th, giving Caterham 10th place in the constructors.

Not that Pic would mind, as he’s moving to Caterham next year.

Although Pic proved to match Glock compared to his last two team-mates, he becomes the only team-mate that Glock has ever beaten in the championship table.

Glock, who I used to view as one of the most solid drivers in F1, didn’t shine this year. However, unlike racing for a midfield team it’s extremely hard to stand out when your races involve seeing a Caterham in the distance and occasionally an HRT in your mirrors. The fact that Pic was so strong with such limited running also didn’t help.

There’s justifiable hope on the horizon as the 2013 challenger will be the first Marussia/Virgin car to be designed from scratch using a wind tunnel as well as CFD – something that should have been done three years ago.

Highlights: Finishing 11th in the Constructors for the first time and running Caterham close right to the very end.

Lowlights: Losing 10th place at the last race with a few laps to go, along with Maria de Villota’s accident.
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