The Formula 1 season is getting ready to rumble with the opening race in Melbourne on Sunday. Track Records put the spotlight on John Booth, founder and Team Principal of Yorkshire’s only Grand Prix Formula 1 team, the Dinnington-based Marussia Virgin Racing, in a Question and Answer session.
What was the high point of the 2010 season for you?
That had to be the Spanish Grand Prix in Valencia, where we managed to get both cars to the finish for the very first time.
And the low point?
Without a doubt the worst race was the Shanghai GP in China, where one car failed to start on the grid and the other retired within eight laps. We went all that way – with the horrendous travel costs involved – to hardly take part in the race itself.
Are there any regrets and does F1 involvement still seems a good idea on reflection?
I’ve still no regrets whatsoever. It was the motor racing chance of a lifetime that I could not resist taking and I’m still glad I took it.
Having done all the four pre-season tests has that helped the team?
We’re certainly in a much better shape to start this season, than last, as we’ve concentrated over the winter on getting the car’s reliability right, so as to finish more races.
In 2010 F1 cars were reliant on hydraulic systems to power and control so many things and the team suffered a great deal of unreliability in this area, which hurt your season. Are the hydraulics on the car now ‘bomb proof?’
(Booth greeted the question with a nervous laugh).
We are as confident as we can be with the hydraulics systems but can’t be 100 per cent sure because they are so complex. However the system is much better than last season.
Last month star driver Timo Glock had to be rushed to hospital to have his appendix removed. Will he be fit to race?
I’ve just spoken to him as he boarded the plane for Australia so I can’t see a problem. He will be fine for the race.
What you are looking forward to and is there anything you are dreading in 2011?
I am just looking forward to everything and a good challenge. I’m not dreading anything, in fact I can’t wait to get there. Although we are obviously sad to have missed it, the delayed season start with the cancellation of the proposed opening round in Bahrain, was an absolute blessing in disguise with Timo’s appendix problem.
What are your aims for 2011?
By mid-season we want to get into Q2 (final qualifying session part 2) on a fairly regular basis – that is our ultimate goal.
Has Marussia’s involvement eased finances and sided the development side?
It has given us a security to plan - that’s the biggest thing. The security not just to plan for next week but for next month and several years ahead – it is a real comfort to us.
Racing under a Russian name, a Russian licence and with a Russian GP in 2014 - so surely they would prefer a Russian-based GP team?
No! There’s absolutely no truth in that all. We have a strong association with a Russian company and we’re very proud of that.
In fact you could say we’re Russian-owned but we are based in South Yorkshire and that is where we are going to stay.