Marussia: FP3 threw up more than the usual challenges

Cool, wet and cloudy conditions prevailed at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal today as the final preparations for tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix got underway with Free Practice 3 and Qualifying. The Marussia F1 Team ended the Q1 session with Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton in 20th and 21st positions respectively.

This morning’s FP3 session was abbreviated by 30 minutes due to the requirement for barrier repairs at Turn 11 following a support race incident earlier on. There was feverish activity up and down the pit lane as teams worked to condense their hour-long programmes into something meaningful, but the changeable track conditions made it difficult to balance the cars with the brief amount of running achieved with the slick tyre at the end of the session.

This afternoon, it was hard to gauge the extent to which the track would have dried between FP3 and Qualifying and most of the pit lane took a gamble on finding a brief window for the Supersoft tyre at the start of the session. A few corners told the teams everything that they needed to know as drivers were forced to peel back in for the Intermediate tyre after just one hair-raising lap on the softer rubber on a track that was still drying.

Jules Bianchi:
It has been a frustrating day as I think we were looking strong yesterday in the dry and in anticipation of a dry race tomorrow. Today was a bit of a wash-out however because, although the rain was not heavy, it was intermittent and the track was quite variable at several different stages of the day. Like most of the field we took a gamble on the track having dried enough by the start of Q1 for us to use the Supersoft tyre, but it was so slippery that we were lucky to make it back to the pits to change to the Intermediate. I never got a clean lap as there was the occasional damp patch on the line, so I couldn’t get the consistency to improve enough. I hope we can expect the forecast dry race and we can focus on the positives from yesterday.

Max Chilton:
That was a very tricky qualifying. It wasn’t easy to read the track before our first run but it was soon very clear that the Supersoft we had started on was not the way to go. It was like an ice rink! Once we’d switched to the Intermediate tyre I had the confidence to start attacking and we were making good progress, but the track was evolving the whole time so everyone was going quicker. On my quickest lap I got blocked but it’s good that we start ahead of at least one of the Caterhams tomorrow. I hope we’ve seen the last of the wet here and we can look forward to a dry race, as things were quite promising yesterday.

John Booth, Team Principal:
The wet conditions made for a difficult day for the Team. FP3 threw up more than the usual challenges with only half an hour of running, however at least both cars got onto the option tyre at the end and Max had a particularly good end to the session. Jules didn’t quite get the best out of his tyres having run wide and onto the damp conditions on the dry tyres, however we could see that, in the main, the cars were pretty much as we’d expected them to be after we’d applied our overnight learnings. The Qualifying session was obviously very difficult. We felt it was right to try and use the option tyre, however, as with most of the field, we stopped almost immediately for the Intermediate. Whilst there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the timing of our runs, traffic and varying water conditions meant we never got the best from either driver. We’re much happier with our performance on dry tyres and, although there is still a slight risk of rain tomorrow, it does seem that it is more likely to be dry than today. We look forward to that being the case and making as much progress as we can. (Marussia)

Subbed by AJN.