Marussia pulls clear of Caterham in backmarker battle

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The long running battle between Marussia and Caterham rarely gets much TV air time. However, in Spain, out of the glare of the camera, there was a definite swing in the favor of the Anglo-Russian squad who put its new updates to good use on Sunday.

Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton may have only come home in 18th and 19th position respectively, but they finished well clear of Marcus Ericsson in the sole Caterham in 20th place. Kamui Kobayashi was forced to retire due to a brake problem, although he was also adrift of the Marussia drivers during the race.

In practice and qualifying, the Marussias were well clear of the Caterhams, and Bianchi has now set his sights on the Sauber drivers ahead.

“It was a good race today in which we saw clear signs of our improvement,” the Frenchman explained. “I was able to get ahead of my teammate at the start, which was my first objective, and to stay ahead of the Caterhams which was the next.

“Our other objective was to take the fight to Sauber and while we were able to match their pace, the gap to them ahead was too great to be able to take a position from them. That time will come, I’m sure and maybe a race like Monaco will give us a better opportunity.”

Chilton extended his remarkable record of having finished every grand prix he has started, which is now 24 from 24 for Marussia.

“I’m really pleased that we’ve seen a good step forward here and we’ve been able to lift our performance versus the cars around us,” he said. “We’ve definitely gained a really strong advantage on the Caterhams and the Saubers are now in our sights, so well done to the team.”

Although points may not be on the cards just yet for Marussia, the team has certainly come on leaps and bounds in the past year. That said, you can count on Caterham fighting back at the next race in Monaco two weeks from now, and the battle for tenth in the constructors is set to continue for the rest of the season.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

SMP Racing
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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.