As F1 heads to possible its most scenic venue of 2014, the Marussia team will have eyes only for one thing.
Ignoring the aberration that saw Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi collide on the opening lap in Canada two weeks ago, the Banbury-based minnow has been punching above its weight of late, and was rewarded with its first-ever points finish as Bianchi took ninth place on the streets of Monaco. While breaking the top ten is unlikely every weekend, however, Marussia still wants to keep the likes of Sauber and Toro firmly within reach.
“Our package has shown great promise during the course of the last few race weekends and it goes without saying that the team will be focusing its efforts on extracting even more of that potential and hopefully underlining our recent trend in keeping the midfield in our sights,” team principal John Booth confirmed before the squad set off for Austria, which returns to the schedule for the first time in eleven years.
“We're very excited to begin the next European phase of the season in Austria, which is like a brand new race for the majority of our team yet, at the same time, is a venue with a fascinating history,” Booth continued, “A few of our number have experienced the circuit previously, but to all intents and purposes the sport has had to begin its approach to this grand prix with a clean sheet of paper.
“As is the case up and down the field, we will be reliant upon the simulation work we have conducted in recent weeks, together with the proven ability of our young engineers and drivers to read and adapt to the demands of a new circuit once running is underway.”
Neither Chilton nor Bianchi have raced on the Red Bull Ring previously, meaning that Friday morning practice will be spent adding 'real-time' experience to the knowledge gained in the simulator in the build-up to the race. Neither was happy with what happened in Canada last time out, and will be looking to make amends and regain the momentum that lifted Marussia above both Sauber and Caterham in the teams' standings.
“I always enjoy the challenge of a new circuit,” Bianchi admitted, “It isn't new for everyone of course, but I think the starting point will be pretty similar for all of the teams as it's been such a long time since F1 raced there.
“Adapting to a new circuit is one of my favourite challenges as a driver, both in terms of working with my engineers to tailor the car to the track and also putting to the test my own ability to get to grips with a new layout and characteristics. I really enjoy this. We've done some simulation work and the track looks really good; another interesting challenge for us. I hope we can continue the strong direction we have seen at recent events and get a nice result for the team.”