With the demise of HRT it falls to Marussia to take up the role of official paddock minnow. Their launch wasn’t so much announced as slipped quietly into conversation: only late last week did the team from Banbury confirm they would have a new car at Jerez.
The first thing to notice about the MR02 is that it’s sufficiently pretty to remind you what F1 cars should look like – though that’s likely to be little consolation to Marussia who clearly need more sponsors’ logos to cover up those beautiful lines.
The MR02 is arguably the car most distinct from its predecessor. The team made a wobbly entrance to F1 when their decision to build a car without the aid of a wind tunnel flopped badly. They changed that around last year after cosying up to McLaren for the use of the larger team’s wind tunnel and some simulation tools.
This is the first product wholly designed in the traditional way. Marussia have also been shopping at Williams, having finally taken the plunge and decided to run with KERS. Marussia run with the same Cosworth engine Williams endured in 2011 when they first used KERS, so the installation should have been straightforward.
“It was said many times during 2012 that, notwithstanding the impressive steps we were taking in other areas of our development, KERS - or the lack of it - was the defining factor in determining our position relative to our immediate competitors,” said team principal John Booth.
We can use the short period of testing we have to get the car optimised for Melbourne.
“KERS was a ‘strategic omission’ from our package until now; we opted to place the emphasis on aerodynamics, so that when we were in a position to bring the system to the car, we already had the strongest possible basis and its integration would be relatively straightforward. Thus far, this has certainly been the case, as our trackside engineering team have spent the winter refining their tools and preparing for the addition of KERS to ensure we can hit the ground running with effect from this week and use the short period of testing we have to get the car optimised for Melbourne.”
The MR02 took its bow in the hands of F1 rookie Max Chilton. Having parted company with the experienced Timo Glock, presumably in an effort to balance the budget, GP2 runner-up Luiz Razia has been confirmed as Glock’s replacement.
One name that has been confirmed at Marussia is that of technical director Pat Symonds. Symonds has been a consultant to the team for the last couple of years while serving a paddock ban for his role in Renault’s Singapore shenanigans. Having had his wrist well and truly slapped, Pat’s now properly back in the fold and Marussia will get the full benefit from his vast experience.
I’m really happy with the start we have made to our 2013 campaign.
Chilton managed 29 laps before throwing the new car into the gravel at the Dry Sac corner (we’re in sherry country) after what the team believe to be a rear suspension failure.
“This afternoon’s problem aside, I’m really happy with the start we have made to our 2013 campaign. With a new car there is always the potential for something to crop up and cut short the programme, but for the morning period everything went according to plan, which is just the start we needed,” said Chilton. “I’m sure the team will get on top of the suspension issue very quickly so we can all pick up where we left off and start putting some more miles on what is obviously a very promising package.”