Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton triumphed over the tricky weather conditions in Spa today to help the Marussia F1 Team into Q2 in a breathtaking qualifying session which rewarded bravery on track and on the pit wall.
Having begun Q1 on a wet circuit with the Intermediate tyre, both drivers switched to the Medium rubber for their final run when, really, the track was still too damp for slicks. They completed just one lap before debating whether a switch back to Intermediates might be wise, but at the final corner Max and Jules took the eleventh hour, penultimate corner decision to stay out and gamble on the track drying adequately to enable them to push and steal a march on the competition. The gamble paid off and they displaced both the Williams cars, both Toro Rossos, a Sauber and a Caterham to give the team that much-deserved Q2 feeling again – and in Belgium, the scene of the Marussia F1 Team’s last Q2 appearance.
Jules and Max again performed well on the Medium tyre in the much drier Q2 session to end the day in P15 and P16.
Jules Bianchi: “Today is a fantastic result for the team, who were so happy to be back in Q2. This was a nice feeling for everybody, including myself, as this was also the first Q2 of my F1 career. Things have been steadily improving for us over the weekend and I’m really happy that all the hard work paid off for us today. This result was not about luck because everyone was faced with the same dilemma at the end of the Q1 session; whether it might be too dry for the Intermediate tyre or too wet for slicks. On the first lap on the final run it was hard to make up my mind what to do; only the drivers could see what the track condition was really like and it was different from corner to corner. By the end of the lap I had decided just to go for it and stay on the Medium tyre and that gamble was exactly the right call. Tomorrow we line up on the seventh row, which will be a nice moment, but of course we don’t really know what the weather will bring. We have everything to gain and we will make the most of every opportunity.” (Marussia F1)
Subbed by AJN.
Max Chilton: “What a great day for everyone! Together with Jules I’m so pleased to help put the Team into Q2 again. It was such a tricky qualifying, and as we can see from the classification, it’s difficult to make the right calls at a track where the lap is so long that the conditions are so different from corner to corner. When we switched to the dry tyre for the final run I was worried we may have made the wrong call and might have to switch back to the Intermediate but I also knew the track was drying quickly and we could easily make another wrong call by changing back. The engineers put the decision in my hands and I was undecided until the final corner, when I just made a judgment call in an instant and opted to stay out. I’m happy to say it was the right call and we went on to enjoy a strong Q2, when my time was pretty pleasing given that on my final run I was fuelled for two timed laps. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s race now, rain or shine.”
John Booth, Team Principal: “A fantastic result for the Team and it’s great to know that we have come so far operationally that we can now handle the scenario we saw today with such confidence. Although it is not the first time the Team has been in Q2, it is the first time that we achieved this with ‘both’ cars and in such challenging conditions. These were probably the most challenging wet conditions we have endured in Q1 in terms of the variation of water level through the lap and it really took mature heads on both of our drivers to take the necessary decisions guided by information provided from the garage. In general it has been a good day overall; we’ve seen a good balance on the car this morning, particularly for Jules, but during qualifying both drivers were the happiest they had been with the car all weekend, which should stand us in good stead for the race. We do however have both feet firmly on the ground and in what could be another wet scenario, remaining in our grid position will be tough. Nonetheless, it is a target every single member of the Team will be pushing for and we will make the most of every opportunity. Today’s result is a great reward for all the hard work the Team and Cosworth have carried out to come back from a challenging set of races recently to enable us to fare better at circuits which now play to the strength of our package.” (Marussia)