Mar.16 (Marussia) The opening free practice sessions for Sunday’s curtain-raising 2012 Qantas Australian Grand Prix were always going to be about the Marussia F1 Team getting their feet wet, as the team fielded its as yet untested MR01 race cars for the first time in competitive conditions. In that respect the team were not disappointed, as the Albert Park circuit witnessed warm, cold, wet and dry conditions during today’s three hours of running.
It was pretty much a case of ‘straight out of the box’ and onto the race track for Timo Glock and his new team-mate, rookie Frenchman Charles Pic, who made his own debut today when he drove for the first time in a Formula One Grand Prix weekend. As if the prospect were not already daunting enough, the changeable weather conditions made it difficult for him and every other driver to get into the groove of the usual Friday set-up and tyre evaluation programme.
It is “only Friday” as the saying goes in F1 circles, but everyone at the Marussia F1 Team couldn’t help but feel rather positive as Timo ended his first day with a brand new car in 12th position and the team’s young rookie had a very respectable first showing.
The heavens opened just in time for the start of this both of today’s sessions and the drivers were forced to gingerly tiptoe around the 5.303km circuit with the new car, desperate for more forgiving conditions with which to evaluate the package. They did manage some dry running which allowed both drivers to get a more representative feeling for the car.
“I think it has been a difficult start to the weekend due to the weather conditions and we had to be a bit careful. For everyone it has been great to see the car out there and performing well at the moment. P1 I had already quite a good feeling but we were a bit unlucky at the end because we could only do one timed lap. In P2 difficult again at the start but in dry conditions I was feeling very positive and it was good to be able to follow Red Bull for more than three laps! When I got back to the garage I was a bit surprised to see myself in P12, which doesn’t mean anything at this stage, but equally it means a lot to everyone who has worked so hard through the winter and had a difficult time. There are a few smiles in the garage, which is nice to see. Let’s see what the rest of the weekend brings now.”
“We have a lot to learn with the new car, so today was always going to be a challenging way to open my first season. The rain really frustrated our plans but we got some dry running and that means we have a feeling for the car and some data to start working with. My first impressions of the car are positive. We need as much running as possible and we didn’t get as many laps as I would have liked, but we did enough to highlight any problems with the car and there are none so far, so that is positive. A good start and I’m quite happy.”
John Booth, Team Principal:
“It’s a little early to be getting carried away with ourselves but equally we couldn’t have wished for a better start to our 2012 campaign. On a day when everything could have gone wrong for us – and the weather certainly did – we managed to give everyone in the team something to smile about after a pretty challenging few months back at base. P2 was a very changeable session, and so is the order, but we were all pleased to see us posting a time that was in the midfield and it will provide a great boost to the team. Considering where he started the day, with very little experience of the car and some hair-raising track conditions, Charles conducted himself perfectly. It has been a tough test of his mettle and there is obviously plenty more in the tank, which we look forward to nurturing. We are obviously mindful of the fact that the conditions have been as they have today and we have only managed one set-up change, so we are desperately hoping for a dry FP3 tomorrow to give us the best possible run at qualifying and the race.”