F1 rookie Jules Bianchi insists that helping his new employer climb off the foot of the F1 table is his focus for 2014, despite the obvious comparisons that will be made with his equally inexperienced team-mate.
By opting to ditch veteran Timo Glock in favour of someone who could contribute to its finances, Marussia F1 laid itself open to becoming the least experienced team on the grid this season, first with Luiz Razia, and now Bianchi partnering Max Chilton in a line-up without a grand prix start between them.
The Frenchman, however, appears unconcerned by that stat, and by the fact that some will place great store on the battle for supremacy between himself and Chilton. Despite his lack of familiarity with either Marussia or its new MR02 chassis, Bianchi was able to out-pace the Briton on both his days on track in Barcelona, but insists that the focus has be on the bigger picture in 2013.
"Obviously we are always driving to be quick, but it's not only to beat your team-mate, but also to improve the car and beat the other teams in the paddock," he told ESPN F1
, "We are trying to do our best and we will see. We are trying to improve, but we need time. Maybe before Melbourne it will be a bit tight, but during the season I'm sure we will improve a lot."
Marussia's fight is once again expected to be with Caterham, which pipped it to tenth in last year's constructors' table thanks to Vitaly Petrov's late pass on Charles Pic at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Ironically, Pic then left Marussia for its rival, where he will line-up with another rookie, Giedo van der Garde, but was unable to prevent Bianchi coming out on top at the final pre-season test.
Marussia, meanwhile, believes that Formula One Management will be unable to show footage of its cars at next weekend's Australian Grand Prix as the two sides have yet to reach accord on the sport's latest commercial agreement.
Bernie Ecclestone claims to have negotiated agreement with all teams, but Marussia team principal John Booth has revealed that, despite having its entry accepted by the FIA, it does not yet have a commercial deal in place.
Although talks are continuing, Booth told ESPN
that, without an agreement, there could be problems covering the race as Marussia won't have allowed its cars to be included in the footage.
Whether that's more of a problem for Ecclestone or for Marussia's sponsors remains to be seen...