Manor Marussia F1 Team have revealed that they are ‘ready to race’ in the Formula One 2015 season opening round in Australia next weekend after their modified 2015 specification car successfully passed the FIA’s mandatory crash test. The team took to Twitter earlier today with the message: “Our big news of today is that we have now passed the FIA crash tests. Well done team! That’s it – we’re all set for Melbourne!”
The team have made stark and almost shockingly impressive strides to get in the position where they are able to compete next weekend if you take into account the team’s position at the start of 2015. In January it was looking like Marussia were gone for good after the full list of creditors was revealed and an auction to sell off cars and parts was organised. This was cancelled at the last minute when the possibility of competing in 2015 arose with newly announced backer Stephen Fitzpatrick of OVO Energy and interim chairman Justin King. The team then sought permission to compete using a 2014 car, which was denied by team’s such as Force India. They then set about modifying the 2014 car so that it would comply with the 2015 regulation changes, before completing a deal with Ferrari to supply engines and a deal with Will Stevens to driver the first of two cars. The team will introduce a full, new 2015 car later on in the season. The team are yet to confirm their second driver or car design as of yet.
“It’s the 2014 car with a very high degree of carry over, and then some really quite clever engineering solutions to make sure it is fully compliant with the rules.” Said Manor sporting director Graeme Lowdon The nose is different and the chassis has to be modified, with added zylon safety panels. Some very clever engineers have used their time and solved their technical problems to deliver us a fully legal car but with a very high degree of carry over due to the time scale.”
With the announcement that the team would begin the year with a modified 2014 car, it has been bought into question whether or not the car will be fast enough to qualify within the the 107% rule; where drivers must be within one second of the fastest time in the first qualifying session in order to take part in the race.
“We understand that some of this performance [multiple-second improvements from other teams in testing over the winter] is made up from the new tyre compounds that Pirelli are bringing, which of course we will be using as well. We’re going to understand much more about this the first time we run,” said Fitzpatrick on the issue of qualifying in Melbourne,
“As soon as we’re ready to bring through the 2015 package in the first half of the season to the grid we will be doing it. Right now the story is one of survival and understanding exactly what we need to do to stay alive – that’s been the last three months. We are going to enjoy being on the grid. I don’t think we’re particularly concerned about the 107 per cent rule for qualifying when we look at the combination of the tracks and also the performance that we were getting to at the end of last season.”
The first race meeting of the 2015 season gets under-way next Friday (13th March) with the first two practice sessions for the Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park street circuit.