I have said it many times before, but I am about to say it again – Marussia are having a great 2014. Obviously, their main objective heading into the season was to score points and Jules Bianchi’s heroics in Monaco meant that this particular goal has been signed, sealed and delivered. However, 2014 has been about so much more than that for the Banbury squad. They have had great reliability, their drivers have once again impressed, particularly in the case of Jules Bianchi, who will surely be a tough asset to retain for another season, and they are ahead of Sauber in the standings. However, Graeme Lowdon is not about to crack open the celebratory champagne bottles just yet…
Few could have predicted that Marussia would be P9 in the standings come the Summer break. However, the team burst out of the starting blocks with great reliability and good drive-ability while Sauber, Caterham and to a lesser extent Lotus, struggled to come to terms with the new Formula One. It is testament to all the engineers working at Banbury over the winter, who have developed a solid car on a low budget. On the contrary, Sauber’s season has failed to get going, with neither Sutil nor Gutierrez able to put points on the board in the team’s worst start to a season, EVER.
However, Lowdon is quite rightly downplaying Marussia’s current position, as a quick glance at recent results highlights that Sauber are beginning to fight back. Adrian Sutil’s P11 in Hungary was the closest the team have been to a points finish and they seem to be getting on top of the issues which have restricted their progress. Despite Esteban Gutierrez’s surprising admission that the team are still not sure of the key fault behind the C33’s lackluster performance, they are beginning to unlock some speed – and not before time! Consequently, Marussia may struggle to hold off the Sauber’s in the closing stages of the campaign.
Lowdon highlighted that; “Of course the other teams try equally hard as well, so it’s not good enough for us to just stand still, we’ve got to be moving forward because the other guys will be pushing really hard.” Moving forward is of course the bread and butter for any team, but whether Marussia can muscle their way back in front of Sauber is yet to be seen. It is in the second half of the season where the years of experience begins to become critical and while both teams may be on shoestring budgets compared to the powerhouses that are Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren, experience is a valuable tool. Marussia is a young team, with young two drivers and I would imagine that a vastly improved Sauber team will eventually wrestle P9 out of Marussia’s grasp and I think that the pragmatism being enforced by Graeme Lowdon is probably well-placed. It will unquestionably be a tall order for Marussia to hang on, but if Sauber want P9, they will have to grab it from a team who know what its like to loose a cherished constructors spot and do not want to relive the experience.