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.

Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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While the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is still two months away from beginning its 2018 season, this past week did bring about news items that filled out the 2018 grid and shed some light on individual team and car launches as the season-opening Australian Grand Prix draws closer.

Below is a recap of F1 news from this past week:

Williams Signs Sirotkin for 2018 Drive, Names Kubica as Reserve Driver

The saga of the second seat at Williams Martini Racing was finally resolved early on in the week, with former Renault Sport F1 Team test driver Sergey Sirotkin officially confirmed as a teammate to the incumbent Lance Stroll in 2018.

The announcement concluded months of speculation that saw multiple drivers test for the team in an auditioning capacity. Most notably, Robert Kubica looked to be a main contender for the seat before Sirotkin emerged as the favorite.

However, Kubica, who has not raced in Formula 1 since a devastating rally accident in 2011 left him with brutal injuries to his right arm, was named as a reserve and development driver for the team.

This announcement also completes the 2018 Formula 1 driver lineup, with all 11 teams having their seats now filled. Among those who were left without F1 drives are Paul Di Resta, who drove for Williams at the Hungarian Grand Prix in relief of Felipe Massa and even tested with them during the Winter months, and Antonio Giovinazzi, who filled in for Pascal Wehrlein at the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix.

Former Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also without a race seat for 2018, but did sign on with Scuderia Ferrari as a development driver.

Mercedes, McLaren Reveal Dates for Their 2018 Car Launches

While most teams have not yet released dates for when their 2018 cars will be publicly launched, three notables have.

Mercedes AMG Petronas will introduce its 2018 challenger on February 22nd, the same day Ferrari is doing so, while McLaren will unveil its car one day later on the 23rd.

Testing will commence on February 26th at Circuit de Catalunya.

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