In an interview today with Autosport, Marussia’s Team Principal John Booth has confirmed that a computer virus that hit on the first day of the Bahrain test put Marussia on the back foot for the rest of its running at the Sakhir circuit.
The team only completed only 29 laps during the four-day test at Bahrain last week. This was fewer than any other team at the test but with the virus that they suffered on Wednesday effectively wiped out their test day.
In his interview with Autosport, Booth said the following:-
“It started off with the first disaster, which was a computer Trojan-type virus in the racks, which cost us the best part of the day. So that set the tone for the week. On the second day, we did 17 laps and it was OK, working through problems but then on Friday we lost most of the day with an engine issue and it took all day to change.’
This setback for Marussia will not have been what the team would have wanted at Bahrain last week. Despite all the problems that the team encountered along the way, Marussia were able to get some much needed track time and mileage that will help them develop their car ready for the final test at Bahrain this week.
Booth then went on further in his interview to explain the rest of the Bahrain test for the Marussia team:-
‘The final day was a series of little problems and little problems with these cars take so long to fix. In the morning, we had an ERS [warning] light came on but it turned out to be a false signal, so that was two hours lost. Then there was a fuel system problem, which is not a Ferrari problem, it’s ours.
‘Things like that keep bogging us down, but I don’t think we had the same problem twice, which is odd because usually you get recurring problems.’
But this is what testing is for. Marussia have now been able to spot and recognise any slight or significant problems with their 2014 car and will now I am sure take steps and changes in order to make sure that they do not resurface this week at the Bahrain test. But they should be happy with gaining some much needed track time last week when other teams such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso appeared to be struggling.
With Marussia having completed only 59 laps with its MR03 last week, Booth has admitted that he is concerned about being ready for the season-opening Australian GP. Booth has expressed his hopes that during the final four days of the test in Bahrain (which starts on Thursday) that Marussia can get into a reasonable position for the first race of the 2014 season.
Booth said the following in his interview to Autosport:-
‘I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried in the slightest. It’s OK thinking you can sort the problems but you have to prove it. But I am very hopeful. We have done nothing on set-up whatsoever, but having said that the drivers report that what they have done they feel pretty confident with.
‘The brakes are fine and we improved that over the week, it has come on in leaps and bounds. We have only got four days before the next test then four days of testing and we just have to maximise what we have left.’
I think that Booth is one of many Team Principals this year who are not worried about what will 2014 will bring to their teams for this year. There will be problems that the teams will face with their cars throughout this season and it will take time for the teams to get to grips with the new challenge that they have been presented with this year.
With the new rule changes, consistency and reliability will be crucial factors for the early part of the season. Booth has every reason to be worried about the problems currently facing the Marussia team ahead of the Bahrain test on Thursday, but I am sure that the team will be working hard to make sure that they iron out the current problems and keep on improving the car ready for Melbourne.
The new rule changes in the sport this year might provide the team with the chance to achieve their aim of trying to make Q2 regularly for this year, if other teams have reliability issues. It will be challenging for the Marussia team to achieve their aim of regularly getting into Q2 throughout 2014. But I have no doubt they will give it their best shot with the equipment and resources they have at their disposal.
But I do feel once the teams get on top of the new regulation changes and start developing their cars, the Marussia team through no fault of their own may struggle to keep up to date with the rest of the field. Marussia it would seem are putting all the steps in place in order to try and significantly improve and build on their 2013 season where they secured tenth place in the Constructors Championship.
But will there be enough time for the Marussia team to fix their current problems with the MR04? There will never be enough time. All they can do is make the most of the final pre-season test and then prepare for Melbourne in a few weeks time.