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Ryan Gault

Ryan is one of those people who follow every sport going, from football to speedway and golf to ice hockey. He has followed Formula 1 for as long as he can remember, which just so happens to be the 2001 US Grand Prix, Mika Häkkinen's last ever win. Since then he has followed the tribulations of the greatest Swiss team since he heard about Grasshoppers Zürich, Sauber. Currently studying Journalism at the University of Huddersfield, while also attempting to write about TV and Eurovision.

From Marussia, with not much love // The fate of Marussia could rest in the hands of their younger drivers

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I always liked Jérôme D’Ambrosio, he seemed competent, drove well, and matched up fine against his more experienced team mate. Although the races went in Timo Glock’s favour most of the time, D’Ambrosio was more than a match for him in qualifying, going down 10-9 in the inter-team battle. A good effort for a rookie against a three time podium visitor.

Pic of the day
Pic of the dayCredit: LAT Photographic

But in one of the greatest injustices of the winter, he was dropped in favour of Charles Pic, a driver with an OK, if not reasonable history in the lower formulae, his third in the 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 his career best, with a smattering of wins along the way. A hardly spectacular career to say the least, although then again, just a smidgen worse than D’Ambrosio.

Behind the times

Pic hasn’t been able to really perform up to Glock’s standards just yet - 4 races gone, 4 races he’s finished behind (including a retirement in Bahrain with engine problems). While he did outqualify Glock in Bahrain, a decent run to 19th, it was only because of a mistake Glock made on his critical flying lap.

Charles Pic (who would have saved a lot of trouble naming himself after former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel), is an average driver, and while he’s probably only there because he’s a tad richer than D’Ambrosio, and his predecessor Lucas di Grassi, he’s not humiliating himself at the same time. In the sense that you can’t really be humiliated more for being in a Marussia.

Both of them have found themselves chucked out of the gates of the factory

Marussia and Virgin Racing stayed true to a tried and somewhat dubious methods of sticking with Glock and throwing a rookie in at the deep end. Di Grassi was moderately successful in his stint, D’Ambrosio arguably was a success, but both of them have found themselves chucked out of the gates of the factory, facing a long, lonely walk away from Formula 1.

Where next?

Jérôme testing for Lotus in Mugello
Credit: LAT

D’Ambrosio, to some extent, was lucky, a third driver role at Lotus. But where is di Grassi now? Stuck in a dead end job at Pirelli, testing old cars in an attempt to ‘improve’ the standard of tyres for the company (or make them worse, whatever they think F1 will get the most from).

The treatment of the second drivers at Virgin has been simply shocking, unjust even, and although we are in the cut throat world of Formula 1 - where Jaime Alguersuari is stuck on the radio while Pastor Maldonado gets to drive around for 90 minutes every other Sunday - their treatment does seem harsh.

The team needs pay drivers, I can understand that, practically every team from Lotus down needs them, but they insist on paying (what I imagine is) a high wage for Glock, who, as much as I love him, hasn’t really offered a lot to the team or himself. I maintain Glock should be looking at a seat at a better team, but his belief that he’s an asset to a team that’s stagnated for three consecutive years seems to be waning. He’s a good driver, but not a driver Marussia need anymore. It’s a union unhelpful to both parties.

Virgin/Marussia Best Results
YearDriverResult
2010Timo Glock14th
Lucas di Grassi14th
2011Timo Glock15th
Jérôme D'Ambrosio14th
2012Timo Glock14th
Charles Pic15th

Glock can drive the car around better than anyone else, true, but he has the experience and doesn’t need the hassle of spending 20 races a season in the vague hope of maybe catching one of the Caterham’s. Caterham are to an extent an exception, they are trying to go somewhere, even if it’s like watching a snail finish the Great North Run.

Kovalainen’s qualifying suggests that they might just, just, be going somewhere after all these years, something Marussia have yet to deliver on. Continuing to bring up young talent, even if it’s just to make the bank balance look healthier, is the way to go for them. It could bring them to be a stepping stone, but that’s something more than they are now. Di Grassi shouldn’t be at Pirelli and D’Ambrosio really deserves to be racing this year, I fear for where Pic could be going in 2013.

Where Glock could go, I simply don’t know. Certainly there seems to be no viable option for him at this time, and really Marussia seem to be the only way he can stay in Formula 1. But a dual partnership of youthful, energetic and fairly talented drivers in di Grassi and D’Ambrosio I can enjoy watching, assuming any of the directors remember they are there.