Luiz Razia’s career as a Marussia F1 driver has lasted all of 23 days. The Brazilian’s contract was terminated after his sponsors defaulted on payment to the Banbury-based team.
Marussia promptly announced that it had hired exiled Force India candidate Jules Bianchi, who this week lost out on his chance of a race seat with the team to Adrian Sutil
As we had predicted earlier this week and in our pre-recorded radio spot on The Qualifying Lap – which goes to air on Monday – Razia’s position at the team was looking increasingly shaky. It emerged that his absence from the second pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya last week was due to his sponsors defaulting on payment to Marussia.
It would appear that the issue came to a head this week, and the team was forced to terminate his services.
“We have found ourselves in a situation where we have had to terminate our contract with Luiz,” Marussia team principal John Booth said.
“Having made clear the basis on which we must operate in 2013, and given the steps we had taken to put that new structure in place, we had no alternative but to remain true to the principles which we had identified as being key to securing our long-term future.”
Razia was controversially appointed to the team at the expense of Timo Glock, who was (perhaps ironically) dumped from the team after three years of service to make way for the better-funded Brazilian.
Meanwhile, the on-the-market Bianchi was quickly snaffled up by the team, giving the delighted Frenchman the opportunity to make his F1 debut this year.
“I am thrilled to have secured a race seat with the Marussia F1 Team,” Bianchi said.
“Racing in Formula 1 this season has been my goal over the winter and after evaluating a number of options I am very excited to have this opportunity to demonstrate that I am ready for this next step in my racing career.”
“Jules is a proven talent who is highly regarded within the paddock,” Booth added. “He has been on a clear trajectory towards Formula 1 and has achieved some impressive performances through the various feeder formulae, notably his 2012 season in Formula Renault 3.5 when he was also reserve driver for Force India.”
Given Marussia’s technical relationship with McLaren – which includes the use of the Woking team’s simulator – it will be interesting to see impact Bianchi’s signing has given he is a Ferrari Academy driver. One doubts that McLaren would be too pleased about having access to some of their trade secrets…