Marussia F1 Team
|Based in: Dinnington, South Yorkshire, England|
Founded: 2009 (active 2010-2014)
Chairman: Darryl Eales
Team principal: Alex Tai (Dec 2009), John Booth (Jan 2010 - Dec 2015)
Chief executive officer: Any Webb (since Feb 2010)
Sporting director: John Booth (Dec 2009 - Jan 2010), Graeme Lowdon (Jan 2010 - Dec 2015)
Technical director: Nick Wirth (Dec 2009 - Jul 2011)
Engineering director: Nikolay Fomenko (Feb 2010 - Jan 2015)
On 12 June 2009 it was announced that Manor Motorsport was granted one of the open slots for the Formula One 2010 season. Manor is a British motor racing team that was formed in 1990 by former single-seater champion John Booth. Until then, the team had been mainly competing in Formula Renault and F3 Euroseries, hosting drives to future F1 champions like Kimi Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton.
The team eventually got shaped up when on 14 December 2009, Lloyds Banking Group announced that it had invested ten million pounds in the team. One day later the team was renamed Virgin Racing as Richard Branson confirmed that his Virgin group acquired the naming rights for the team.
Virgin took a particular route to its first season with Wirth Research designing their first car with only CFD from its base in Bicester. The Virgin Cosworth VR01 will hence be the first modern Formula One car untested in a windtunnel before its track debut. The car preparations and racing operations are however run from the team's headquarters in Dinnington, South Yorkshire.
With Alex Tai, a close friend and business partner of Richard Branson, at the helm, the new team kicks off with Timo Glock and rookie Lucas Di Grassi behind the wheels. A single month however after the team's official launch, Alex Tai already left the team 'in search for new challenges'. John Booth took leadership of the team once again, jointly with Graeme Lowdon, one of the founders of Manor.
The first Virgin Racing car was a decent attempt and could fight with Lotus to be the best of the new teams. Just like Lotus, the team soon realised that it had to focus on 2011 if it were to make a big improvement. Among reliability problems normal for a new team were the remarkable mistake of Wirth to make the fuel tank too small. This resulted in the technical department having to rework the car early on in the season to allow drivers to make it to the finish without having to run in fuel saving mode.
At the end of 2010, Russian car company Marussia announced that it bought into Virgin Racing and officially renamed the team Marussia Virgin Racing. The company headed by Nikolay Fomenko was involved with the team since its inauguration and aimed to promote itself worldwide by buying part of the new team. This led to a new managing structure put in place in February 2011.
Early on into 2011 the team found it impossible to make real progress with its racing and engineering divisions split up. As the MVR02 proved to have lost ground to Lotus over winter, another major restructure was bound to happen. On 4 July 2011, the team announced to have bought the F1 operations of Wirth Research, including the building and CFD infrastructure at Banbury, UK. At the same time it sealed a deal with McLaren for the use of their windtunnel.
Earlier in the year, the team also hired former Renault engineer Pat Symonds as a technical consultant. The Brit immediately realised that one of the team's issues was the lack of a windtunnel, or at least the possibility to verify the CFD data in real life. The team therefore secured a deal with McLaren for a lot more than just the use of their windtunnel.
By the end of 2011, it became clear that the team would retain Glock for 2012, while D'Ambrosio was replaced by Charles Pic. The team also completed the takeover by Marussia by again renaming the team, now to Marussia F1 Team. 2012 also wasn't a great year for the team, as their new Marussia MR01 could not be tested before the season due to repeatedly failing a mandatory crash test. The team did however manage to race but eventually finished 11th in the championship, having been demoted from 10th by Caterham at the final race of the season.
In 2013, more money issues arose and the car virtually raced without any sponsorship on it. Glock, Pic and Razia all left the team. Chilton and Bianchi were brought in, a solid driver pairing, but mainly chosen for the money they could bring in. Several car updates were brought in through the season but didn't bring enough to get away from the back of the grid. Further adding to the team's difficulties, Pat Symonds left to join Williams F1.
When Marussia motors became ever more in financial trouble, until it eventually failed, the F1 team also ended up being financially cash strapped, leading into the impossibility for the team to expect any improvements in performance. Still, Jules Bianchi's 9th place finish at the 2014 Manaco Grand Prix were the first points for the team, and similarly also marking the first Russian licensed constructor to score world championship points. The points, and the money that came with the resulting 10th place finish in the constructors' championship also meant the rescue of the team, as a new investor was eventually needed.
On 19 January 2015, the auction of the Marussia cars was cancelled in an attempt to find a buyer. The team collapsed with a debt in excess of £60m pounds, mostly owing money to Ferrari for its engine supply, and Mercedes for the drivetrain partnership.
The team was eventually re-started on its own as the Manor Marussia F1 Team, later Manor Motorsport.
|Car designation||Race years|
|Virgin Racing VR-01||2010|
|Virgin Racing MVR-02||2011|