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High and low points at Marussia // From a top ten finish to a teammate collision in Canada

Published by Christine

The Canadian Grand Prix was book-ended with crashes. Sergio Pérez and Felipe Massa managed to get most of the headlines, for the last lap incident itself, and all their post-race arguing, but I was more interested in the first lap crash between Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi. The Marussia teammates committed that cardinal sin of taking each other out of the race, leaving the team without much to do for the rest of the afternoon.

If I had to put money on which would be the first team to suffer the ignominy of this situation, it would have been Mercedes. The team at the top have had two very feisty drivers battling back and forth for race victories and the lead of the championship, and they've come close on track on more than one occasion. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have proved their worth, though, keeping the racing clean on track, if a little bit dirty when it comes to mind games in the paddock.

Marussia and Caterham cars lifted to safety in Canada
Credit: Pirelli S.p.A.

If not Mercedes, I might have looked to the midfield. The 2014 season has bunched like cars together - not just by engine, although the action in Austria showed yet again just how dominant that German power unit can be. As each race goes by, we keep on seeing teammates ending up on the same piece of tarmac, as the regulation overhaul has separated the cars into their own classes, and it's hard for each pair of drivers to escape each other.

Now that the Marussia duo have done the honours, it seems obvious that they would be the ones to crash first and I start to wonder why they haven't done it before. The pair are always at the back of the field together, and spend a lot of time scrabbling for position with each other and with those green Caterhams.

Max Chilton got the blame for the incident, with a grid penalty meted out for the Austrian Grand Prix. The stewards found that he had turned in on his teammate, although the Brit suggests some of the responsibility should be shouldered by Bianchi who braked later in the corner and probably wouldn't have made it through anyway.

The problem is with the world feed it cuts to me having oversteer and it looks like I slide straight into him... I braked late and he braked even later, which was too late in my opinion, and then turned in. The only thing I could do at that point to try to avoid it looking like it was my fault was to go to the inside.

- Max Chilton, F1 driver, Marussia

In Austria, they managed to steer clear of each other and get to the end of the race with Bianchi two positions ahead of his teammate.

Regardless of what each driver claims, the records will show that Chilton was responsible for the crash, and that's a significant blot on his copybook. Aside from the bundles of cash that Chilton brings to the team, the other bonus of having him on board was his unblemished finish record. The racer had seen the chequered flag at every Grand Prix since his debut, and this crash was his first retirement in almost eighteen months.

With Bianchi bringing home the race finish that saw Marussia finally get their first points, Chilton's position in the team is finally starting to look shaky. Presumably his contract will help him last out the season, but is there a future for him in Formula One? We've seen faster drivers sacked quicker, but the situation with regards to driver movements is as much political and monetary based as it is about speed and talent. With Caterham's future hanging in the balance as well, there's going to be a glut of "backmarker drivers" for Marussia to choose from, particularly as they have to be the favoured team out of the two now anyway.

The focus in 2014 is very much on the battle at the front, but I continue to be interested on what is happening at the rear of the field as well. Mercedes might well have the season sewn up, but for those fighting for survival at the back of the grid, the battle is still well and truly on.