Marussia “in best shape ever”

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F1 strugglers Marussia believe they can enjoy a better season this year despite a disrupted build-up to their 2013 campaign.

Team principal John Booth said: “Although certain aspects of our winter were quite challenging, the overwhelming feeling we take into the Australian Grand Prix is great optimism,” he said.

“In many ways we are in our best shape ever as a team and everyone is thriving on that and looking forward to what we hope will be a positive 19-race journey ahead. Our new package has performed well in pre-season testing, with encouraging signs in terms of performance and reliability.”

Marussia had to let the experienced Timo Glock go despite having a contract with him. His replacement, Luiz Razia, had his contract terminated after 23 days due to sponsorship problems.

That led the team to hire Jules Bianchi alongside Max Chilton, both of which will start their first F1 races in Australia on Sunday.

“Whilst they are both F1 rookies, their combined depth of experience rising through the ranks in the junior formulae and in F1-supported young driver programs leaves them well-placed for their debut season,” said Booth.

Marussia are the last team on the grid to add a Kinetic Energy Recovery System to their car, which they will run for the first time this year. They hope it will help them narrow the gap to Caterham, who narrowly beat them to the lucrative tenth place in the constructors’ championship last year.

However there remains one problem for the former Virgin team ahead of its fourth F1 season: It is yet to conclude a commercial rights deal with Bernie Ecclestone. The FIA said last week “negotiations over the Concorde Agreement were proceeding positively in order to be concluded in the near future”.

INDYCAR Paddock Pass: Road America (video)

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On this week’s edition of INDYCAR Paddock Pass, Anders Krohn gets input from Matheus Leist, Robert Wickens, Simon Pagenaud, and more ahead of Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix (12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Among the topics discussed are the rookie seasons for Leist and Wickens, tire wear and setup challeges at Road America, and the championship chase.

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