Having rewarded Marussia's faith in taking an all-rookie line-up in 2013, Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton return for a second season with the Banbury team, providing vital continuity in a season full of technical change.
Despite their relative lack of experience against the opposition – although main rival Caterham has paired newcomer Marcus Ericsson with returning veteran Kamui Kobayashi – Marussia sees carry-over in the cockpit as ticking an important box as the technical team battles the inevitable teething troubles posed by wholesale changes to engine, drivetrain and aero rules.
“In view of the significant regulation changes, continuity is key, so it is highly beneficial to our technical team, and the engineering group responsible for developing the car in the field, that we retain the same drivers moving forward,” chief engineer Dave Greenwood confirmed, “What this means is that we have not only been able to optimise our monocoque design around an existing line-up, but we can focus all of our attentions on developing the MR03 with immediate effect.”
Noting that grooming rookies for F1 is a time-consuming process, even those that have spent time testing with their teams before stepping up to a race seat, Greenwood acknowledges that doing so this season would have presented even more complications.
“As is the case with any young driver, the step up to F1 is exciting but also very daunting; the complexity of the steering wheel controls being one small but significant example,” he explained, “For 2014, the level of car complexity has increased dramatically due to the considerable role to be played by the power unit and the demands that places on the driver and his engineering team, so retaining Jules and Max is one extremely valuable 'known-quantity' at the start of a season that is full of unknowns.
“At the same time as making life far simpler from a design and development point of view, from a performance perspective we have two young, highly-motivated and extremely talented drivers who we know are capable of driving our team forward.”
Having seen his two rookies achieve the team's aim of securing tenth place in the 2013 constructors' championship, Booth says Marussia has set its sights on a bigger and better 2014 campaign.
“We have to temper the fact that there are a great many unknowns this season with the fact that we are, by nature, a highly ambitious team that is always demanding more of itself,” he stressed “The target is to keep moving forward and that means being in a position where we no longer have to focus on the threat from behind and, instead, take the fight to the teams ahead.
“It is very early days to be speculating about relative performance though and that is something we can perhaps only speak with confidence about in Australia in 45 days' time.
“[Whatever happens], the fans can look forward to a very interesting season, with a variety of technical storylines unfolding up and down the pit-lane.”