Marussia might appear be a seemingly permanent fixture on the penultimate row of the 2012 F1 starting grid, but the team is confident that they are making progress and cutting the gap to Caterham and Toro Rosso ahead of them.
"It's easy sometimes to look at the classification sheet and see the gaps and the positions at the end of the race and not think that there are improvements being made," said David Greenwood, chief race engineer for the Marussia F1 team. "But that's not the case.
"We started the season around 4.5% off the leaders in the race and it's somewhere around 2–2.5% now, so that's a good improvement," he continued. "If you look at the underlying pace, that's getting a lot better."
Key to making progress is ensuring that the team maintains a constant stream of upgrades so that they don't lose ground again in the development wars.
"Obviously from the start of the season we knew we had a long way to improve," said Greenwood. "That's mainly what we've working on with recent upgrades ... Going forward that will look even better when we have these upgrades and at the end of the year the gaps will be significantly less."
One of the key disadvantages for Marussia so far this season has been the lack of KERS on the car, admits Greenwood. That affects qualifying times and grid positions, and also limits what the drivers can do on track when competing against cars of similar pace.
"[It was a] conscious decision to concentrate on aerodynamics," insisted Greenwood. "That's all happening now and we're much happier with progress on aero and correlation to the windtunnel, etc."
But next year the team will move on and focus on other areas, including adding KERS to the package at last.
"[It's a] logical step with 2014 in mind and the new powertrain that's coming along to take KERS for 2013, get operational and sort of start the next stage of our journey," agreed Greenwood.
Marussia's drivers Charles Pic and Timo Glock ended up 19th and 20th at the end of Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning, the only dry track running the teams will get at Spa ahead of qualifying for the Belgium Grand Prix.