Marussia bolster chances with KERS bolted on to MR02

Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02 with aero paint on the rear floor. Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday 5 February 2013.

Max Chilton in the Marussia MR02

Formula One tail-enders Marussia put themselves on a more level playing field with rivals Caterham –  now with KERS bolted on to their car for the first time since the birth of the team – while staying silent on their final driver line-up.

The Russian-licensed team, who for cost reasons have competed since their debut in 2010 without the KERS energy recovery systems that every other team had last year, finally took the technological plunge with their new MR02 car.

Principal John Booth said, after the Cosworth-powered challenger’s unveiling in the Jerez pit lane ahead of the first test of the year, that it was a big moment and a ‘massive step forward” for a team that has yet to score a point.

“I think it is our first real baby,” the Briton told reporters.

“It was said many times during 2012 that…KERS – or the lack of it – was the defining factor in determining our position relative to our immediate competitors,” he declared in a statement.

“KERS was however a ‘strategic omission’ from our package until now; we opted to place the emphasis on aerodynamics, so that when we were in a position to bring the system to the car, we already had the strongest possible basis and its integration would be relatively straightforward.”

The car has also been designed with the use of a wind tunnel after the team’s previous reliance on computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

British rookie Max Chilton will be one of the team’s drivers but there was no confirmation of the second, despite reports in Brazil that Luiz Razia had secured the seat.

Experienced German Timo Glock would have been the other but he left the team last month by mutual agreement to allow the team to bring in more funds.

Malaysian-owned Caterham, who pipped Marussia to the lucrative 10th place in the championship last season, also revealed their new CT03 car in the Jerez pitlane with French driver Charles Pic and Dutchman Giedo van der Garde.

The car, an evolution of last year’s, is the first they have built since the move to a new factory in central England and first under the leadership of team principal Cyril Abiteboul.

Technical director Mark Smith said the most obvious changes could be seen around the lower chassis where the sidepods have been undercut to improve airflow to the rear of the car.

“The team has produced a car that is an evolution of the 2012 car, building on that platform to give us a chance of continuing to make progress towards the teams ahead, whilst also dedicating enough resource to start work as early as possible on the 2014 car,” said co-chairman and founder Tony Fernandes.

“For me this is going to be the story of the 2013 season…resources and budgets dictate that there will have to be a cut-off point in the development of the current season cars so focus can be switched to 2014.”

Formula One is introducing significant rule changes next year with a new V6 hybrid turbo engine that represents a major challenge. Teams will have to develop their 2013 car while simultaneously working on next year’s.