There is unlikely to be a big fanfare surrounding the first appearance of Marussia's new F1 contender as the team is keen to catch up on lost track time at the opening group test in Spain.
The Banbury-based operation had hoped to make it to Jerez in time for day two of the session, but eventually rolled into the circuit late on Wednesday having suffered setbacks in both its preparation and journey south across Europe.
The first laps turned by the MR03 will therefore be the first milestone of the team's fifth season in F1, as the team finally gets to compare its response to the most dramatic and far-reaching technical regulation changes for years with those of its rivals.
The most significant change is the departure of the normally-aspirated engines which have prevailed in the sport since 1988, in favour of a new, more road-relevant powertrain system, underpinned by a 1.6 litre turbo-charged V6 power-unit. For Marussia, that means a switch from long-time partner Cosworth to link up with F1 powerhouse Ferrari, with design and development of the MR03 beginning in early 2012, when a small 2014-focused design group initiated the very first chassis layouts. A year later, as the 2014 technical regulations began to take shape, the Ferrari
partnership was forged and the design process gained greater traction, running in parallel with the 2013 grand prix season and development of the MR02.
The technical changes from 2013 to 2014 are significant for every team, and while they represent a considerable challenge, team principal John Booth also sees an exciting opportunity for the young and ambitious design teams at the Marussia Technical Centre in Banbury.
“As we saw in the step from 2012 to 2013, we have young but experienced and extremely talented technical and engineering groups within the Marussia F1 Team, who have contributed enormously to our rate of progression over the past couple of years,” the veteran team boss explained, “To have designed a car that is true to the concept first conceived in early 2012, despite the integration of an entirely new powertrain and whilst pushing hard to attain our 2013 constructors' championship objective, is a testament to the extent to which we have matured as a technical organisation.”
The new technical partnership with Scuderia Ferrari, the most successful team in F1 history, sees the Anglo-Russian Marussia team benefiting from a full Prancing Horse powertrain, comprising internal combustion engine and energy recovery system, full transmission and all related ancillary systems, and Booth speaks highly of the seamless transition to a new technology.
“We have nothing but good things to say about our new relationship with Scuderia Ferrari,” he confirmed, “They are extremely professional and have been entirely supportive from the beginning. There is excellent co-operation between our two technical groups in all areas of the new relationship and this has made the considerable challenge of integrating a new powertrain a great deal easier.”
Pinpointing other areas of reassuring stability during the team's transition to the 2014 rules, Booth made sure to thank other collaborators in the paddock.
“We would like to thank McLaren
Applied Technologies, and also our team partners, for their continued support and faith in our ambitions,” he noted, “We were extremely pleased to reward their loyalty in 2013 and we look forward to having them along for our next exciting chapter.”