Team boss Booth insists future of struggling Marussia is assured

Marussia team principal John Booth has brushed aside speculation regarding the team’s future in Formula 1.

There have been rumours as to the likely survival of Marussia, now primarily funded by a Russian sportscar manufacturer that lends its name to the team.

It followed a troubled winter in which Marussia – which began life in South Yorkshire as Manor Motorsport under Booth – missed all three pre-season tests, the last in Barcelona after failing the final mandatory FIA crash test.

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But Booth has been at pains to point out that Marussia has turned a page, with new personnel coming and altering the design philosophy of the car. The team have also relocated from their previous base in Dinnington to Banbury.

As a result, Booth believes Marussia are a more genuine F1 team than previously.

“Of course we’ll see out the season,” said Booth. “We’ve strong sponsors and we’re very happy with them as they’ve been very loyal to us. Our shareholders are committed to taking us through to 2014. We are not attracting many new sponsors, but I don’t think any team in the pitlane is.”

Lewis Hamilton dominated the first day of qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver’s time of one minute 38.021secs posted in the initial 90-minute outing at the Sepang International Circuit remained good enough to lead the way, with him being only marginally slower in the afternoon.

Hamilton was followed by Mercedes’s Michael Schumacher, trailing by 0.361secs, with Jenson Button just two thousandths of a second further back.

Timo Glock was the first Marussia driver home in 1:43.170, with team-mate Charles Pic just over a second behind.