Russian Grand Prix: Weighing up the options for Marussia

After the horrific crash suffered by Jules Bianchi at Suzuka, the future of the Marussia F1 Team must be under consideration. With the constant rumours of financial problems and now with their lead driver on the sidelines for the foreseeable future, this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix at Sochi will be crucial to determine whether the team remain in F1 or not.

There are three scenarios the team can do this weekend:

  • 1) Do not race at all.
  • 2) Race with one car for Max Chilton.
  • 3) Race with two cars for Chilton and either Alexander Rossi or Will Stevens.

There is possibility that any of those scenarios could materialise ahead of the race at Sochi, which is officially the teams’ home race.

With so much heartache and sadness within the Banbury team after the events in Japan, it would not be a surprise if the team withdrew both of its cars from the event in Russia, leaving only 20 cars on the grid. For this to happen, they will need FIA approval, providing of course they aim to be back for the following event at Austin, Texas.

The second option is that there may be a case for just racing with Chilton for the event, especially with the chassis of Bianchi’s car written off in the crash. With back-to-back events taking place, it might just be impossible to get another chassis in time for the Russian race, and it will be left for Chilton to pick the team up after their Suzuka horrors.

The third possibility will require that new chassis to reach Sochi in time, and if this is indeed possible they could rely on one of the two recently added drivers to their reserve roster – Alexander Rossi or Will Stevens. Rossi almost made his debut at Spa-Francorchamps in place of Chilton but the Briton retained his drive after a financial situation was sorted out, and it could be with the free practice time he managed in Belgium that he would be in pole position for the drive. Stevens only recently joined the team from Caterham and has not had any time in the car, so a race drive for the Briton right now seems unlikely.

What should be determined however is that whatever Marussia decide to do should be universally accepted from everyone associated to Formula 1. The sport is not bigger than any personality, and Bianchi’s crash will have affected everyone within the team massively. Should they wish to withdraw, let them. Should they want to run one or two cars, let them. F1 is just a sport.

Should they run with two cars, it will be obvious to either Rossi or Stevens that they would not have wanted to make their debut in Formula 1 in this manner, and with the condition of Bianchi in the long term still in the air.

Can Marussia survive this ordeal? Back in 1994 Simtek were a fledgling team, and were dealt a cruel blow early in their life with the loss of Roland Ratzenberger at Imola, and then with the huge crash in Spain that saw their replacement driver Andrea Montermini end his season early.

Financial problems ultimately ended the Simtek dream a year later, and although Marussia have been in F1 longer, the sport remains expensive and Marussia have been struggling to raise funds, and we could be seeing the final few races for the team this year.

This season they have improved, and on occasion have punched above their weight, including with Bianchi’s points in Monaco and with a few journeys for both drivers into the second part of qualifying. They have almost become the modern day Minardi, much loved but certainly an underdog that on their day can cause an upset. It would be a shame to lose them. Let’s hope we don’t.

Of course everyone’s primary concerns are with the well being of Jules Bianchi. There is nothing more important than a human life, and right now he is in everybody’s immediate thoughts, and everyone wishes him well and hope he fights through to make a full recover.