Tag Archives: Marussia

Pondering Petrov

23 Jan

The delay by Caterham to announce their second driver, coupled with the shock exit of Timo Glock from Marussia this week, presents an interesting situation at the back of the grid.

Vitaly Petrov is the seemingly logical driver to take the Marussia seat – a Russian driver in a Russian backed team, with a Russian GP planned in 2014. He also has the vital sponsorship which the team needs. However, things are not that simple.

Petrov has been in the queue for the remaining seat at his current team, Caterham, along with his unlikely-to-get-it 2012 team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, Giedo Van Der Garde, Luiz Razia and Bruno Senna. Petrov’s manager, Oksana Kosachenko, has made it clear that they are focussed purely on securing the Caterham seat. This has caused some head-scratching in some quarters given the obvious Russian connection I mentioned earlier.

I have no doubt that the sudden vacancy at Marussia will have raised hopes in many quarters, including Petrov’s, but he and his manager are in a precarious position. Heikki Kovalainen has been publicly criticised by his team for seeking a seat elsewhere; indeed the somewhat egotistical senior management appear to feel personally slighted by him wanting to consider a seat in a more competitive car. If Kosachenko starts to make overtures to Marussia it could seriously jeopardise their chances with Caterham.

I suspect they have to play a waiting game (publicly at least) to see how things turn out with Caterham and if the seat does go to another driver I think we can expect them to be knocking on Marussia’s door very publicly immediately afterwards if that vacancy is still free. It is possible that Marussia may wait for that very scenario.

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The F1 Week That Was (24 June 2012)

25 Jun

It’s a good job I described this as a weekly-ish column. The last few weeks have been really busy! Anyway, here’s the latest instalment.

Valencia GP – Alonso Reigns in Spain

Despite the unpredictable nature of the season so far, F1 fans were bracing themselves for the annual ‘bore-fest’ of the Valencian Grand Prix. and I remember BBC F1 viewers at the start of the season had been really annoyed that it was one of the 10 live races they would see. Luckily for all it was an absolute cracker. It was a race of mixed emotions for me; in the middle of the race two of my three favourite drivers had their races wrecked and I was bracing myself for the prospect of another Hamilton victory (sorry McLaren fans but I really can’t stand the man). Little did I know that less than an hour later I would be screaming with excitement that Hamilton was out and that Michael Schumacher would be on the podium. The podium made up of Ferrari heroes with Alonso winning his home race was an incredibly poignant moment.

The notable development of the weekend was the heavily upgraded RB8. It  was an impressive step forward for the team and it will be interesting to see how the car performs in different conditions. The other leading teams will need to make similar steps forward in the next few races to prevent the Bulls charging away. Lewis Hamilton’s comments and body language in the drivers’ press conference on Thursday implied this wasn’t the case for McLaren, and Ferrari openly acknowledge they need to move forward. The results of the 3 remaining races before the summer break will be fascinating.

Third Drivers

Timo Glock’s unfortunate illness in Valencia, which led to him missing the race, raised the issue of reserve drivers. Marussia do not have a reserve driver, and the sudden onset of Timo’s illness made the team unable to draft in a temporary replacement (Jaime Alguersuari and Nick Heidfeld were both in the paddock, albeit with broadcasting commitments, and there may have been others). It is unusual for a team not to have a reserve driver, and Marussia’s test driver, Maria De Villota does not have a superlicence so is unable to participate in F1 races.

So why not have a reserve driver? Marussia are clearly short on funds this year – no KERS etc, and as a team at the back of the grid I think they have made the right call. Having a reserve driver is a big financial overhead for a team, and as they aren’t realistically going to be in with a chance of earning points, they are better off running with just one driver in circumstances like the ones that befell them in Valencia. If either Timo or Charles had a longer term problem then there is no shortage of drivers who they could draft in for multiple races.

A London Grand Prix?

News emerged during the week that Bernie has started talks about staging an F1 race at the London Olympic park. This news has been greeted with both cynicism and enthusiasm. I’d absolutely love to see a race in London, and when I go to the Olympics later in the summer I’ll definitely be envisaging an F1 circuit around the park. Bernie has tried for many years to get a race in London and this may be his best chance. The odds aren’t in his favour though.

Inevitably British fans love the idea of having two races. Silverstone has a long-term contract (not that those mean anything to Mr Ecclestone), and Britain is the base for the majority of the F1 teams. I’ve never been convinced, however, that it is a good thing to have two races in one country when there are so many other countries wanting to get a place on the calendar.

We’ll have to wait and see if the bid is successful.