It may have been Timo Glock's 30th birthday on Sunday, but the entire Marussia Racing team felt eligible to celebrate after the German and rookie team-mate Charles Pic both brought their largely untried cars to the finish of the Australian Grand Prix.
The Russian-owned squad missed each of the three pre-season group tests after delays in the manufacture and development of the MR01 were exacerbated by failing the mandatory crash test, and only managed a brief shakedown at a planned promotional event before the cars were shipped out to Australia for the opening round. Rain throughout the opening day of the meeting then restricted more meaningful dry track running, but both drivers did well to qualify for the 58-lap race.
Despite having had no pre-season testing, the MR01 behaved impeccably throughout its debut and, while unable to live with the new Caterham, rewarded the hard work and determination that brought the Banbury-based team through a tough winter.
“I know I speak for the whole team when I say I am absolutely delighted with the new car's racing debut this weekend," team principal John Booth enthused, "I said on Friday that, despite P12 for Timo in FP2, I didn't want us to get carried away with ourselves because qualifying could be a different story and the race was highly likely to expose some of the reliability aspects of the car that we have not yet had the chance to explore due to our lack of testing.
"It really is quite something to have come so far in such a short space of time and in such challenging circumstances. Coming into the weekend, the car had just 200km of promotional running on demonstration tyres and, since we started here on Friday, we have completed 215 near faultless laps – that's 1120km!"
As well as praising the 'backroom boys' who made the cars' presence in Australia possible in the first place, Booth also commended the drivers, who ability to get the car to the finish promoted the team to its highest placing in the teams' championship.
"All credit to both drivers, who have been fantastic throughout," he said, "Timo talked all the way through the race, giving us vital feedback to add to the mountain of data we've been able to gather thanks to the good mileage, while Charles' debut has been very impressive indeed and made very clear to us that he means business in his debut year.
"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our partners – those who have been with us throughout and all the new names who joined us in the weeks leading up to the race - for their faith in the Marussia F1 team, which I am pleased has been rewarded this weekend at Albert Park. We should be under no illusions that plenty of work lies ahead but tenth in the constructors' championship is not a bad place to start.”
Both drivers delivered calm and assured performances before Glock was rewarded with the best birthday present he has had in several F1 seasons. Having been promoted to 20th on the grid by Sergio Perez's gearbox penalty, the German veteran successfully navigated the first corner melee to run 13th early on. Although he dropped back thereafter, the appearance of the safety car to remove a stranded Caterham allowed Glock to unlap himself before embarking on a relatively conservative final stint to ensure he got to the finish.