Marussia has unveiled its 2014 contender at Jerez, the Anglo-Russian team eager to catch up having missed the first two days of testing.
Such is the urgency within the team there weren't even any studio shots available when requested, the Banbury outfit keen to get the car out on track as quickly as possible after an unspecified problem meant it didn't leave the factory until the test was already underway.
The MR03 is the team's response to the dramatic and far-reaching technical regulation changes of 2014, the most significant of which is the departure of the normally-aspirated engines which have prevailed in the sport since 1988, in favour of a new, more road-relevant powertrain system, underpinned by a 1.6 litre turbo-charged V6 power-unit.
The process of conceiving the MR03 began in early 2012 when the team's small 2014-focused design group initiated the very first chassis layouts. 12 months on, as the 2014 Technical Regulations began to take shape, an new powertrain partnership was forged with Ferrari and the design process gained greater traction, in parallel with the 2013 Grand Prix season and development of the MR02.
The technical changes from 2013 to 2014 are significant for every team, and while they represent a considerable challenge, according to Team Principal John Booth, they are also an exciting opportunity for the young and ambitious design teams at the Marussia Technical Centre in Banbury, operating to a business model that demands efficiencies in every area.
"As we saw in the step from 2012 to 2013, we have young but experienced and extremely talented technical and engineering groups within the team, who have contributed enormously to our rate of progression over the past couple of years," said Booth. "To have designed a car that is true to the concept first conceived in early 2012, despite the integration of an entirely new powertrain and whilst pushing hard to attain our 2013 Constructors' Championship objective, is a testament to the extent to which we have matured as a technical organisation."
The extent of evolution between the 2013 and 2014 cars can best be characterised by the fact that, of the 11,212 components that made up the MR02, only a handful of assemblies have been carried over to the MR03. The result, as Chief Designer John McQuilliam highlights, is the team's "best-ever optimisation of performance versus innovation versus design integrity."
"Through the course of 2012," he continues, "we analysed every single element of the car - from the tip of the nose to the trailing edge of the rear wing - knowing just how radically different the MR03 would be under such sweeping Technical Regulations. We have benefitted enormously from the stability of our design teams, with the same personnel beginning - and now concluding - the process over a 24 month period. I think we can feel justifiably proud of the way we have responded to such a significant challenge and the quality of car we have arrived at with the MR03.
"The car has been manufactured and finished to a very high standard, whilst achieving our most significant weight-saving targets to date and, importantly, with a crucial eye towards maintaining our excellent record of reliability.
"Without doubt, the greatest design challenge has been in terms of cooling, yet this is one of a few areas where we are not only very pleased with the design response, but also the degree of innovation we have achieved with our solution.
"All-new front and rear suspension layouts are a product of the new aerodynamic regulations placing greater emphasis on mechanical performance, with the mechanical systems now having far greater real road relevance."
For 2014, Marussia has a brand new technical partnership with Ferrari which sees the Anglo-Russian team benefiting from a full Ferrari powertrain. As a Ferrari customer, Marussia is supplied with an Internal Combustion Engine and Energy Recovery System (ERS), full transmission and all related ancillary systems.
Booth speaks highly of the seamless transition to a new powertrain: "We have nothing but good things to say about our new relationship with Ferrari. They are extremely professional and have been entirely supportive from the beginning. There is excellent co-operation between our two technical groups in all areas of the new relationship and this has made the considerable challenge of integrating a new powertrain a great deal easier."