Drivers: Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton
Championship standing: 10th
Highest finish: 13th
The decision to employ two rookies was met with raised eyebrows, especially for a team locked in a vicious back-of-the-grid battle with Caterham, who had just stolen Marussia’s 2012 star Charles Pic.
However, the idea of having two rookies wasn’t planned from the start. Just two weeks before the new cars rolled out at Jerez for the first of three pre-season tests, Timo Glock announced he was off to DTM which left Marussia scrambling for a replacement. Force India had lost Nico Hulkenberg to Sauber and needed a replacement. Jules Bianchi and Adrian Sutil were the team’s two possible drivers and the Silverstone based outfit eventually chose Sutil. Bianchi, stuck for a drive, decided to take a seat with Marussia instead of returning to the feeder series. It turned out to be a stroke of good luck .
From the very first race in Australia Bianchi stood out. Out-qualifying both team-mate Max Chilton and the Caterham duo, he went on to beat the trio in the race en route to finishing an impressive fifteen. Chilton on the other hand, was behind Pic but ahead of Van der Garde.
Malaysia brought more impressive form from Bianchi. The Frenchman again out-qualified his three back-marker colleagues and went on to record thirteenth in the race, finishing ahead of Pic, Van der Garde, Chilton, Button and Ricciardo. The thirteenth in Malaysia stands as the team’s best result this season and helped pull them to tenth in the Championship. In China, the Marrusia duo, led by Bianchi, once again out-qualified the Caterhams and Jules went on to again finish ahead of Pic, this time taking fifteen while Chilton finished seventeenth.
Charles Pic’s nineteenth in Qualifying ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix was the first time Bianchi was out-qualified at the back. Chilton was twenty-second and last. Pic went on to out-race the Marussias although they both finished in front of Giedo van der Garde. The Spanish Grand Prix was yet another quiet weekend for the team who slowly but surely seemed to be losing out to Caterham in the development race.
Marussia’s Monaco Grand Prix was hugely disappointing. Bianchi qualified dead last after his Marussia pulled over merely seconds into Q1 with an engine fire. The race was no better as Bianchi failed to make it off the grid for the Parade lap and so had to start from the pitlane. In the other Marussia, Chilton overtook Pastor Maldonado into Tabac but moved back across the Williams too soon and sent the Venezuelan into the TecPro barriers in a tank-slapping 9G impact. The buckled barrier blocked the track and prompted a red flag while Chilton was penalised for the incident. Bianchi eventually retired with a brakes issue while Chilton finished fourteenth.
Canada was a mediocre, uneventful race for the team before the British round where Chilton qualified at the back of the grid for his home Grand Prix. The team was spared of the Pirelli tyre dramas and took advantage of the drama to finish sixteenth and seventeenth, although Charles Pic was once again one step ahead.
Both drivers were involved in separate but scary incidents in Germany. Max Chilton was struck by something during Practice and it was the Zylon strip above his helmet, which was only recently introduced, that stopped the object, most probably a pebble, from penetrating the helmet. During the race Jules Bianchi’s car caught fire into the final chicane and he pulled over. However, once he had climbed from the car, it began rolling back down the hill towards turn 13, crossed the track and hit an advertising board, prompting a Safety Car. Chilton went on to finish nineteenth, last of the remaining cars.
And so to Hungary, the last race before the summer break. It was a poor showing for the team in comparison with Caterham who out-qualified and out-raced both Marussias to bring a disappointing end to the first half of the season which started so promisingly. Although the team started strong in Australia, they slowly but surely dropped behind Caterham in the development race. Bianchi’s thirteenth in Malaysia stands as their best result this season and has them standing above Caterham in the Constructors battle. However, without strong updates over the summer, one would imagine they wont be long slipping behind their rivals.