|Team||Manor Marussia F1 Team|
Manor Marussia F1 Team
A story of survival
If prizes were awarded for tenacity and determination surely this team would be world champions. Last year, not long after the Singapore Grand Prix the team then known as Marussia F1 Team went into administration, missing the last three races of the season. This followed the horrific accident suffered by lead driver Jules Bianchi in the Japanese Grand Prix, which left him in a coma. But a consortium led by Irish entrepreneur Stephen Fitzpatrick and Justin King, former CEO of the Sainsburys supermarket chain in the UK, managed to salvage the team and bring it out of administration in time for the first race of this season in Melbourne.
The team has been through a number of iterations since it’s inception in 2010 when it was known as Virgin Racing, then financed by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. Made up of a group of companies, one of which was Manor Motorsport, the team renamed in 2012 when a controlling stake was acquired by the Russian scientist Andrey Cheglakov, who had plans to promote Marussia sports cars via his F1 platform.
Rather in the manner of Force India, the team though still has its roots firmly entrenched in the English heartland of the sport. Initially the team was based in Sheffield in the north of the country, but in 2012 moved to a new headquarters in Brackley, Oxfordshire, close to Mercedes, Lotus, Williams, Force India and their close on-track rivals, Caterham. After the administration period it has moved back to the Yorkshire base of Manor Motorsport, which has remained a key part of the team throughout. Manor’s leading figure, veteran team owner John Booth, is the team principal of Manor Marussia.
When the team first entered Formula One™ in 2010, they arrived with a revolutionary concept of designing their car entirely using computer modelling, using computational fluid dynamics softwear rather than wind-tunnel testing. The idea was clever, but failed to fully handle the subtleties of the cars’ complex aerodynamics. A wind tunnel was needed, so they partnered with McLaren.
Since that time, Marussia have reverted to more conventional design and development processes. In 2013, that paid off, as rookie drivers Max Chilton and, in particular, Jules Bianchi impressed with sometimes heroic efforts to keep their cars ahead of close rivals Caterham through the season.
Bianchi, the first Formula One™ graduate of the Ferrari Driver Academy programme, was part of the reason why Marussia was able to secure a Ferrari power deal, which includes not just the 1.6 litre turbo V6 engine, but the complex hybrid power train and eight-speed gearbox. A giant-killing performance by Bianchi in Monaco last year bagged the team its first world championship points, with 9th place. This ensured that they finished ahead of Sauber in the 2014 Constructors’ Championship rankings.
This year is about survival and stability and they continue to work with Ferrari for power units.