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Monday, 5 March 2012

Marussia MR01 and HRT F112 - Welcome To The Back Of The Grid

2012 Marussia MR01
When McLaren revealed the MP4-27 following the Caterham CT01, there was hope that the ugly new "stepped nose" seen on the Caterham would be a little less frequent on the 2012 F1 grid than many had feared. Alas, the McLaren proved to be the only smooth-nosed Formula 1 car in 2012...... UNTIL TODAY! This is the new Marussia MR01, brought about by a Sheffield-based organisation formerly known as Virgin Racing (which has engaged in sponsorship intercourse and can thus no longer be called Virgin). It looks... well, it looks like a mid-field GP2 car from this angle, partially thanks to the simple new livery, but the team are confident that it won't have the same pace as a mid-field GP2 car. There's just one problem...

In actual fact, there are two problems. The first one is that, like Mickey-Mouse outfit HRT, they haven't actually done any testing yet, and the three allotted testing sessions have now finished. They're allowed to do 100KM for a "filming day", but that's it until the Australian Grand Prix. By contrast, Red Bull and McLaren have already prepared upgrades to their cars, which were tested in the final two days of testing (well, testing is a good place to test stuff), with Red Bull copying Sauber's exhaust system after Adrian Newey was "impressed". Kudos to Sauber, I guess. At any rate, it seems that more money from Russian supercar builder Marussia still isn't enough to get them a finished car on time.

The second problem is that, at the first FIA crash test, the Marussia car failed. Because of this it wasn't actually allowed to take part in any of the pre-season testing, and as far as I can tell it hasn't been retested yet. Big chief Pat Symonds says of the issue: "The component in question has actually passed an 'unobserved' crash test but has been performing inconsistently in the observed tests." They have to have it retested before the Australian Grand Prix, otherwise German Timo Glock (aka. Tim O'Glock, or 'Glock Dog' to his friends) and French rookie Charles Pic will be left choosing between a dangerous job and no job. I suspect they don't want either [UPDATE (7/3): They've now passed and are allowed to race]. Other than that, they will be hoping to compete with Caterham, whose ambitions aren't just to beat one of the more established teams, but to finish in the points. That might take some luck, so best of it to them. Meanwhile, Marussia will at worst be hoping to make sure to stay ahead of......

...the HRT F112 (catchy name). Piloted by Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan - for a whole season this time - and seasoned veteran Pedro De La Rosa, this car is also free of any testing mileage aside from a filming day at Barcelona on demonstration tyres. Featuring sponsorship from Indian car giant Tata, the 2011 livery designed by Daniel Simon (he did the vehicles in Tron Legacy, he did) has been replaced by one that makes me want one of those gold Magnum ice creams. I suppose the gold is meant to convince you it's actually worth a shit, which it probably isn't. Their main aim this year should be to not be a complete embarrassment to the sport. Last year at the Monaco GP, there were GP2 cars that lapped faster, and they're designed to be a league below Formula 1...

So, with that, we now have all the Formula 1 cars revealed and all the drivers named, save for two test drivers. Guess which team is lacking in test drivers? Yup. Frankly, if you think you'd be a decent racing car driver, you might as well apply for the job at HRT. They can't afford to be choosy.

2012 Hispania Racing Team F112
Even their images come in a lower res than the other teams' unveil pics. That says it all. Welcome to the back of the grid. Make sure your mirrors are adjusted.

For all my F1 posts thus far, plus some other little stuff, visit my dedicated F1 page.

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