JEREZ, Spain, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Marussia hope to announce their second Formula One driver within days but a deal has yet to be finalised, team principal John Booth said on Tuesday.
“Hopefully this week,” he told Reuters after the team started pre-season testing at a sunny Jerez circuit with British rookie Max Chilton their only named driver so far.
Reports from Brazil last week suggested Chilton’s partner will be Brazilian Luiz Razia, last year’s GP2 runner-up and a former tester for Russian-licensed Marussia when they were called Virgin Racing.
Razia’s own website has also announced a deal.
“That talking to the media is a dangerous thing, isn’t it?” smiled Booth.
“Somebody put something on (the website) and it’s fact straight away. We’re talking to him.”
Booth said Marussia, who launched their new car earlier on Tuesday, needed another driver at the test which runs to Friday and hoped that would be Chilton’s eventual race team mate.
“I can’t see Max doing four days around Jerez for his first proper test,” he said. “It would be a tough call on him.”
Marussia had Germany’s Timo Glock signed to continue with them in 2013 but that deal was ended by mutual agreement, with the driver now set to compete in German touring cars, to allow the team to sign a driver with sponsorship attached.
Booth said the British-based outfit, who have the smallest budget in the paddock, were on a solid financial footing for the season ahead.
”I think our position favours us quite strongly,“ he said. ”We are a team with 180 people and paying that wage bill every month is nowhere near as difficult as paying 500 every month.
”We are very compact and with a sound business plan.
“It’s not an easy game to be in Formula One. We’ve been three and a half years now and we’ve not had a single easy day. But we believe we have a sustainable business plan and we’re comfortable with where we are.”
Booth said 2014 would be more expensive, with the team looking for a new engine partner when the regulations go through significant change and in discussions with all the other providers.
Marussia are the only Cosworth-powered team on the grid - now that Spanish-based HRT have folded - with that engine company expected to depart due to the huge investment required to design and build a new power unit. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Mark Meadows)