F1 » Marussia F1
When the FIA president Max Mosley announced plans to bring in a budget cap in F1, a number of teams from the junior formulae jumped at the opportunity to make the step into the big-time, although it was something of a surprise when Manor Motorsport was one of those selected to join the grid in 2010; the successful F3 outfit having slipped in under the radar to secure one of the places available.
The demise of the budget cap before it had even came into play was always going to make things difficult for the team new teams in their debut season, and Manor would be no exception as it also embraced a new way of thinking with the design of its first F1 machine.
Running under the Virgin Racing banner thanks to a commercial tie-up with Richard Branson, the first Manor Motorsport F1 car was designed by Nick Wirth and his team at Wirth Research, with the design process focused completely on computational fluid dynamics. What that meant was that the VR-01 never saw a windtunnel as the team focused completely on digital design to produce the car.
Having signed Timo Glock to provide an experienced leader in its debut season alongside rookie Lucas di Grassi, hopes were high within the team but the 2010 campaign would prove to be a baptism of fire.
Early in the season, reliability would be a major issue, while the team was also forced into a radical overhaul of the car when it became apparent that the fuel tank was too small.
Glock failed to finish any of the first four races of the year while di Grassi fared little better; seeing the chequered flag just once in the four fly-away races before a return to Europe.
As the season wore on, things did improve but when the campaign drew to a close, Virgin still found themselves rock bottom of the standings and with work to do in 2011.
Despite the issues faced in its debut season, the team stuck with CFD in the design of the MVR-02 – the addition of the M to the chassis name coming thanks to a tie-up with Russian carmaker Marussia during the off-season.
Glock returned for a second season with Belgian driver Jerome D’Ambrosio coming in as his partner to replace di Grassi, but the team once again found itself languishing at the bottom of the standings after a second difficult season.
While d'Ambrosio would match the team’s best finish of 14th on two separate occasions, Marussia Virgin propped up the standings for a second successive year although moves were been made to ensure there was no repeat in 2012 after the team announced it was to split with Wirth after a tough start to the year.
A technical tie-up with McLaren, which gave the Manor-run team access to a windtunnel for the first time, saw CFD dropped as the sole design tool for its third year in F1, when the team was rebranded as Marussia Racing to take into account the financial input from the Russian carmaker.
Despite his troubled campaigns, Glock remained committed to the team having re-signed for a third season, with the German welcoming another new team-mate in the shape of GP2 graduate Charles Pic.
The season didn’t start well when the new MR01 failed to complete any pre-season testing while the early stages of the season saw Glock and Pic struggling to keep pace with rivals Caterham. However, as the season progressed, so the performances started to improve – despite the team being rocked to its core in July by a horrific testing accident that saw Spanish driver Maria de Villota lose her right eye.
When Glock secured twelfth place in Singapore, Marussia were on course to take tenth in the constructors’ championship only to lose the place in the season finale when Caterham’s Vitaly Petrov was able to beat Marussia's best and push the team back to eleventh – albeit still the first time the team hadn't ended the season as winners of the wooden spoon.
Despite missing out on tenth spot, progress made during 2012 has left the team in confident mood heading into 2013 when the team will again field a new-look line-up after Pic moved to Caterham and Glock left by 'mutual consent' – with the team citing economic factors as the reason for the decision.
The addition of KERS to its car should provide a much-needed boost as the Marussia crew aims to make forward progress up the field, although the team’s pre-season didn’t go to plan when Luiz Razia signed up to partner Max Chilton, only to then lose his drive when sponsorship money failed to materialise.
It meant a deal was struck with Jules Bianchi to team up alongside Chilton instead, with the Frenchman hoping to make the most of an unexpected second chance having missed out on a drive with Force India.