Day Three of the final pre-season test saw newly-signed Jules Bianchi embarking on his debut run in the Marussia F1 Team MR02 at the Circuit de Catalunya. Less than 24 hours after joining the Team, the 23 year old Frenchman had completed 74 laps in the car he will race for the first time in Melbourne in just over two weeks. He ended the day P12 out of 13 drivers with a best time of 1:24.028.
Much of the morning was given over to acclimatisation work, but it wasn’t long before Jules was up to speed and performing some evaluation runs with which to familiarise himself with the MR02 in Melbourne spec aero configuration. The track was completely dry throughout and the improved air and temperature conspired to provide Jules with ideal testing conditions for his opening day’s work.
Jules will be back in the car tomorrow morning before handing back to Max Chilton to complete the afternoon session. The conditions are expected to be similar to today so Max can look forward to his first full evaluation of the new aero upgrade package on a dry track.
Jules Bianchi: “The past 24 hours have passed by so quickly, having signed for my new Team and tested our new car in such a short space of time. Today has been pretty busy but we have been very fortunate to have dry weather, warm conditions, a reliable day and plenty of mileage, so in many ways I couldn’t have asked for more on my first day in the MR02. Perhaps the only disappointment is not getting a clean shot at my run on the Supersoft tyre at the end as the Red Flag frustrated things for us. That would have put the whole day’s work into context I think and I could have brought everything I have learned together into a single lap. However, I have learned such a lot about the car and the Team, so I am happy and looking forward to another half day in the car tomorrow morning. My thanks to the Team for a big welcome and for working so hard into the night to create the seat and have everything ready for me today. I feel very positive for Australia and the rest of the season. ”
John Booth, Team Principal, Marussia F1 Team: “It was certainly a very good start to Jules’ career with the Marussia F1 Team today, albeit one that came at rather short notice. The whole Team was incredibly well-organised last night and got Jules comfortable in the car quite quickly, which resulted in a seamless day of testing. Jules hit the ground running this morning and was quickly giving us good feedback to help with the development process with the new car and we have achieved a good day’s running. We are rapidly coming to the end of our winter testing programme with the MR02 and we have made good progress over the last few weeks with both car and Team. However, there is still much to do to ensure we are as prepared as we need to be before the first race. Tomorrow morning Jules will get an opportunity to work with the whole Race Team on honing pitstops and Max will get his final opportunity for more mileage in the MR02 with a similar programme in the afternoon. ”