Jules Bianchi a boost for Marussia - AUTOSPORT analysis
|By Edd Straw
||Friday, March 1st 2013, 18:31 GMT
Losing a contracted driver on the eve of the season is never a good thing, but by landing Jules Bianchi, Marussia has ended up with a stronger line-up, in terms of on-track performance if not financial clout.
Luiz Razia, as GP2 runner-up, is a worthy enough driver to have a crack at the top level and it's impossible not to feel sympathy for a likeable character whose dream has been so cruelly snatched from him.
But those that have worked with the Frenchman (including personnel at Force India, who have also had the chance to run Razia in testing) recognise that Bianchi is the driver with the greater potential even though there are a few weaknesses that he has to overcome.
Since winning the Formula 3 Euro Series for the all-conquering ART team in 2009, things haven't gone quite as hoped for Bianchi, who was hotly-tipped in GP2 but managed only to finish third in the standings twice and then narrowly missed out on the Formula Renault 3.5 crown last year.
But while the results aren't as spectacular as they might have been, there have been plenty of signs of his class.
Why else would Ferrari have kept him on as a promising talent and been so keen to ensure that he landed a race seat in 2013? Especially as the Scuderia still regards him as a potential future race driver.
Bianchi's biggest weakness has been under pressure, with unforced errors creeping into his driving at inopportune moments.
For that reason, having his first campaign in the lower reaches of the grid with minimal expectations should allow him to ease his way in without the vast pressure that he would have in a team like Force India.
That's a positive for Bianchi and therefore also for Marussia, which heads into the season having had to sacrifice the talismanic Timo Glock for financial reasons.
Bianchi will be light on experience of the car, but at least having driven the Force India already this year he will be sharp enough to hit the ground running even if the relative lack of downforce of the Marussia will likely be a shock to the system.
The downside is that there will inevitably financial implications given that the Bianchi deal is not worth as much as the Razia one was intended to be.
Marussia at least has the satisfaction of having received some money from Razia, the Brazilian's two test days at Jerez being perhaps the worst F1 value on record.