IT IS all change at Marussia Virgin Racing.
It is out with the old and in with the new as the Dinnington-based team look to become a genuine force in world motor sport’s richest playground.
In a hectic closed season, Moscow-based Marussia Motors have acquired a “significant” shareholding in the fledgling Formula One outfit, meaning the team will be known as Marussia Virgin Racing this year, the driving line-up has altered and a major boardroom shake-up has also happened off track.
At the BBC’s Television Centre yesterday, Marussia, who finished bottom of the constructors championship in their debut year after picking up zero points in 19 races, also unveiled their new MVR-02 car which they hope will steer them up towards the middle of the grid.
At the launch, the team also confirmed they will compete with a Russian licence this season as part of their partnership with Marussia
Team principal John Booth, who first founded the team in its original guise as Manor Motorsport, said: “For the first part of last year, I didn’t feel like we belonged in Formula One and had earned the right to be there. But the by the end of the year, I felt we added to the show.”
Director of Racing Booth, who has been given two years to transform the team’s fortunes or risk being axed, added: “We all have to perform. Marussia’s arrival has given us the chance to plan. We can now plan for five years so it is a wonderful partnership.”
Booth told The Star the team are focusing on improving reliability and aiming to get into the latter stages of qualifying on a regular basis
He said: “It is not an easy task because Sauber, Toro Rosso and Force India are established F1 teams.
“There are a lot of quality outfits out there and we have to find a way to beat them.
“F1 is all about pressure. The partnership between Marussia and ourselves gives us a chance to prove that we can do it. If I am found wanting, then I will hold my hands up. It has always been my dream to be in F1 so I will be doing all I can to make us a success.”
Led by technical director Nick Wirth, Marussia have designed a car through computational fluid dynamics (CFD), a high-tech digital process that eschews the more traditional – but more expensive – wind-tunnel approach.
The MVR-02 gets its first run out in testing at Jerez tomorrow after the old model was used in Valencia last week, and Booth feels the upgrade is another big step forward for the team.
Booth also expects big things from Jerome d’Ambrosio, who replaces Lucas di Grassi as second driver to Timo Glock: “Jerome is a nice fellow and he just needs to develop some of Timo’s edge.”