John Booth's claim that Marussia hoped to fill its vacant 2013 seat before the end of testing at Jerez proved true as the team confirmed Luiz Razia as team-mate to Max Chilton ahead of the second day of running.
Less than 24 hours after Chilton unveiled the Marussia's new MR02 chassis solo in the Jerez pit-lane, Razia – who has long been seen as the favourite to replace the departed Timo Glock – was revealed as his partner in the least experienced pairing on the grid.
The 23-year old finished as runner-up in last year's GP2 Series, but has a previous relationship with the Marussia team, having acted as its official reserve driver in 2010. The Brazilian had expressed his surprise when Chilton was confirmed in the line-up in December, but hinted at the time that there may be further movement at the Banbury outfit, pre-empting Glock's departure, by mutual consent, last month.
“It is fantastic to be back with the Marussia team and with pretty much the same group of people I worked with back in 2010,” Razia commented, “Having been [reserve driver], I know this team rewards determination and success in its young drivers, the intention of its programme being to school the next generation of racing driver. I am very proud to take the step up to a Formula 1 race seat, particularly with the Team I began this journey with, since they helped show me what it takes to progress to the highest level.”
Razia's appointment sees him graduate to the top flight in a season where several of his 2012 rivals also made the move from GP2, although ironically reigning champion Davide Valsecchi has had to settle for a reserve role with the Lotus team while Chilton, Esteban Gutierrez and Giedo van der Garde – who filled three of the five places behind him - will all be on the grid.
“The past two seasons in GP2 have been all about proving that I have what it takes and that I'm ready,” Razia continued, “This coming season will be all about rewarding the faith the team have shown in me.”
Razia's new role will begin almost immediately, as he takes over from Chilton behind the wheel of the lone MR02 at Jerez. The Briton suffered a suspension problem on Tuesday, which pitched him into the gravel and limited his running in the final hour of the day,
“I am looking forward to beginning the process in Jerez, [and] am also looking forward to the first race in Melbourne,” Razia noted, “I'm also excited to be racing alongside Max, who I competed against last season. This is an important year for the Marussia team in terms of maintaining the momentum from a very positive 2012 season, and I look forward to making a valuable contribution to that.”