Marussia has unveiled it's new F1 competitor, the MR02, at the Andalucia track in Jerez, where the first round of the pre-season test sessions is being held.
Despite finishing last out of the eleven teams that have progressed from the 2012 to the 2013 season, Marussia is confident that it has the package that can make the most out of the last year the current regulations will be in place.
Though the MR02 announcement cited "team stability" as a factor behind the car's improvement, there are several areas where the development of the Marussia has been noticeably improved in comparison with it's predecessors.
For instance, not only is this the first Marussia F1 car to be designed in a wind tunnel (though the team's CFD system was stilled used in the development of the MR02's aerodynamic qualities), but the team has now chosen to install the KERS energy recovery device to the car.
The MR02 has also adopted the Coanda exhaust system that's been adopted by most of the teams in F1.
As a result of all of these improvements – the KERS device alone is said to be worth up to a 0.3 second improvement over a lap at race pace – the Marussia squad appear to be pretty confident with the MR02, with team principal John Booth stating "here is a great deal of optimism among the team for what lies ahead".
First impressions of the MR02
On it's own, the Marussia MR02 does look like a noticeable step forward from last year's car. Okay, so it's a bit spartan and basic at the moment, with an absence of vanes and more complex aerodynamic detailing and such, but those components will most likely appear during the car's development work over the 2013 season.
Start to factor in the foundations on which the Marussia engineers are working on, and all of a sudden, the MR02 looks like it could be one of the big surprisers of the year.
Okay, so expecting it to be tussling with the slower mid-field cars might be a tad optimistic, but the addition of KERS is a hugely important feature, especially when the team was fighting with Caterham for tenth place in the Constructors' Championship in the closing moments of the 2012 season.
Put simply, when a KERS-less Marussia could bring the battle to a statistically superior Caterham, imagine what the MR02 can do!
Of course, it's not quite as simple as that – Max Chilton and Luiz Razia still need to push if they plan on tussling with Pic and van der Garde in the bright green cars that reside in the neighbouring pit garage.
But we expect them to be pretty handy behind the wheel of an F1 car, given their track record in other single-seater racing formulae.
So, unless something goes terribly wrong for the team this year, we're pretty confident in saying the back marker battle between Caterham and Marussia will be one of the closest duels we'll witness in the 2013 season.
And we can't wait to see who emerges on top!