GPl Archives 3 April 2013 Issue #65 - Page 102

ackmarker F1 team Marussia and its young rookie driver Jules Bianchi are emerging as a true surprise package of the 2013 season thus far. Still yet to sign a commercial deal with Bernie Ecclestone for the new season, it emerged recently that Marussia could have disappeared from the grid over the winter in ultimately failed merger talks with usual back-of-the-grid rival Caterham. For 2013, the Banbury-based team signed up pay-drivers Max Chilton and Luiz Razia, but the latter’s sponsor money dried up before he could even travel to Melbourne. At the final hour, Marussia plumped instead for 23-year-old Frenchman Jules Bianchi; a talented rookie with solid connections in the form of manager Nicolas Todt – son of the FIA president – and solidly under contract to Ferrari’s driver development ‘academy’. The Ferrari link could see Marussia move from Cosworth to Maranello-made power for the new turbo V6 era. “You have to ask the team (about that),” Bianchi told Switzerland’s Motorsport Aktuell. “I don’t know anything about it,” he added, despite admitting that Ferrari “helped me to get the cockpit”. Marussia might now be counting its lucky stars. Some believe that, after the first two races of 2013, and spotted from deep in the pack, Bianchi is standing out in the way that Fernando Alonso did at Minardi more than a decade ago. So far, he is clearly faster than Chilton – the son of wealthy insurance mogul Grahame Chilton – and arguably on the road to scoring the team’s first-ever point. B