There’s something to be said for the resolve, determination and pluckiness of smaller teams in Formula One.
Faced with budgets that aren’t in the same ballpark as your Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari or McLaren, the smaller teams have to endure, make the most of their circumstances and hope they can overachieve on the race track.
This season, Marussia has done just that, and it’s that fighting spirit that in its fifth year as an organization will keep it going in the face of seriously challenging times.
Consider the team’s history to make it even this far in F1.
Born as Manor Grand Prix, the team adopted the Virgin Racing name in 2010, Marussia Virgin Racing in 2011 and full-on Marussia F1 Team in 2012, the latter year with its car barely making it to the Melbourne season opener following its failing a crash test.
But 2012 could have witnessed the team’s demise. Maria de Villota had her terrifying accident while doing straight line testing in July. They then lost 10th place in the Constructor’s Championship at the last race when Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham finished a spot ahead of Charles Pic’s Marussia, and the subsequent financial boost that went with it.
It meant that 2013 rolled around with the team having little idea of its driver lineup. Timo Glock and Max Chilton were planned before Glock departed and Luiz Razia meant to enter, before his funding fell through.
Enter Jules Bianchi, who for a year and a half has been a star for Marussia at the back end of the field. The 2013 season was meant to be the first breakthrough, where Bianchi’s early season results and Chilton’s race finishing consistency brought them that elusive 10th place.
It was the sign of a team on the move, slowly, mind you, but one finally moving in the right direction and showing that with hard work, determination and a bit of luck it is possible to methodically advance up the grid.
Sadly 2013 wasn’t without its tragedy; de Villota, who had lost her right eye in the testing accident, later died last October in what was a tough bit of news to swallow for the F1 community.
Now this year, Marussia has had its best season yet, with Bianchi’s two points scored at Monaco the team’s first after five years of trying. It was the feel-good story of the year, and at the moment, it has the team ninth in the Constructor’s Championship ahead of the scoreless Sauber and Caterham squads.
But tragedy and shock has struck the team again, and it almost makes you wonder what Marussia has done to frustrate the racing gods to have to go through something this jarring again.
Bianchi’s accident at Suzuka has left him hospitalized and fighting for his life; it’s left the F1 paddock as a whole in shock, considering the fact there hasn’t been a fatal accident on track since the tragic weekend at Imola, 1994, and it’s left the Marussia team once again needing to press on and like Jules, keep fighting.
At Sochi this past weekend, team boss Graeme Lowdon spoke highly of the paddock’s outpouring love and support.
It speaks volumes of his leadership and Marussia’s rising status within the paddock that the concern is there, and that the drivers have banded together in their support for Jules, and the team.
If there’s one thing Marussia has been able to do over its tenure in F1, it’s continue fighting when the road gets tougher.
So it’s not just a case of #ForzaJules, but #ForzaMarussia as well.