Amidst pre-season dramas where a lack of funding spelled the end of two Formula One careers, the Marussia F1 Team was quietly confident about their car’s performance heading into the season opener in Australia.
When then team hit the track and overwhelmingly outperformed longtime rivals, the Caterham F1 Team, the stage was set for a positive season. Indeed, the trend continued for the next four races. With Caterham much less competitive than expected, star Marussia driver, Jules Bianchi, was making all the right impressions in the paddock, outqualifying his teammate by more than a second on a consistent basis and shining in the the races with a consistent and calculated approach.
As a whole, Marussia was confident for the rest of the season. Even if their second driver, Max Chilton, was somewhat underperforming, great early results mean that Marussia heads into the rest of the season in the all-important 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship.
As the final paying position in the championship, finishing there is imperative for a team constantly struggling for funds.
By the time the F1 circus made it to Europe, however, Caterham had caught up to, and surpassed Marussia in the development race. Since then, things have not been nearly as easy for Marussia, who struggle to out-qualify even one of the Caterhams.
Despite any shortfalls in the car, there is no denying the talent of Bianchi. Part of Ferrari’s Young Driver Academy, the Frenchman was Force India F1 Team’s Friday driver in 2012, impressing the team enough for them to seriously consider him for a race seat for 2013. Ultimately, that seat went to Adrian Sutil, but with the demise of Timo Glock and his first replacement Luiz Razia due to lack of funds, Bianchi soon found himself in Barcelona for the final three days of pre-season testing.
It was a whirlwind start to a Formula One career, and Bianchi has handled himself with poise and composure. He is definitely a driver on the radar on all the top teams, especially Ferrari.
Overall, the first half of the season has been up and down for Marussia. A strong start paved way for the inevitable improvement from Caterham further into the season. The fate of Marussia rests on the hope that Caterham won’t luck themselves into a better finishing position than 13th. That one finish is what separates Marussia from ending the season with millions in prize money or empty-handed.