Formula 1 mid-season review: Marussia
12 August 2014 – As the Formula 1 fraternity enjoys the summer break, GPUpdate.net takes the opportunity to analyse team and driver performances over the first 11 rounds of the 2014 season. In the latest instalment, we put the spotlight on Marussia, still on a high after recording its maiden points finish at the Monaco Grand Prix.
It was said pre-season that 2014 would be the best chance for one of the 'new teams' to score a point and Marussia duly delivered by claiming its maiden top 10 finish courtesy of Jules Bianchi's eighth place in Monaco – which later became ninth after a penalty, not that it cared. It was an impressive turn around in fortunes, considering that two months previously its stuttering cars started from the pit lane in Australia, off the back of a disrupted winter. In a year of unreliability for several of its closest rivals, Marussia has been impressive, with its four unclassified results coming from three accidents and one race in which Bianchi started several laps down. The pace of the car has also been promising, with Bianchi occasionally racing the Sauber and Lotus machines, while its drivability on-track also looks strong even if it lacks the ultimate pace of others – its drivers have confidence in its ability to be consistent, a crucial attribute compared to rivals Sauber and Caterham. This has so far been Marussia's best showing in five years of competition and its effort so far merits the ninth place which it currently holds – if it can hang on, it'll earn a lucrative payday.
Jules Bianchi: 8/10
Bianchi has once again led Marussia's charge, although his season started in somewhat poor fashion. A couple of collisions in Malaysia and Bahrain left him with penalty points and after a strong rookie campaign in 2013, many held unduly high expectations of the young Frenchman. However, he knuckled down and improved, with his robust pass on Kamui Kobayashi eventually netting him ninth position in Monaco for his and the team's maiden points. Since then, opportunities have been few and far between, but he's still battled with rivals ahead when the situation has arisen. He was self-assured when Ferrari came calling following Kimi Räikkönen's accident at Silverstone and performed well during his day in the F14 T. Bianchi, undoubtedly with time on his side, has to improve his race craft – itself a difficult proposition when Marussia is rarely in the thick of any action – but he's still a part of Ferrari's Driver Academy and doing a more than respectable job with his current squad. If he keeps going on his current trajectory, the red team will come calling one day – for good.
Max Chilton: 6/10
Max Chilton is far from the world's fastest driver but he fits in well within the Marussia set-up and this continuity aided both him and the team as they entered the challenging new era. It was suspected that Chilton's consistency – his lacking edge meaning he rarely gets close to the wall or pushes components to their limits – would see him collect Marussia's first point. He didn't, but he inadvertently played a part as he punctured Räikkönen's tyre, which dropped the Finn down the order. Räikkönen then collided with Magnussen, which elevated Bianchi into the top 10. Chilton's finishing record was ended with a silly collision with his team-mate in Canada, but elsewhere he's lived up to expectations and occasionally given Bianchi a run for his money in qualifying. The question now is whether he can start to trouble Bianchi regularly, as he did more than once towards the back end of 2013, and remain with the team into 2015. All could depend on whether Marussia retains ninth.
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