In a positive final Free Practice session this morning in Yeongam, the Marussia F1 Team drivers Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton closed the gap to their immediate competitors further, a trend that continued into Qualifying.
In FP3 the gap was as little as 0.03 s and while the team was unable to usurp the Caterhams in Q1 today, good progress has been made on improving the car balance and the race pace looks promising for tomorrow.
Jules ended the Q1 session in P21 with a time of 1:41.169 after 6 laps. Max was close behind in P22 with a time of 1:41.322, also after 6 laps.
Jules Bianchi: “We seem to be doing a better job of sticking with the Caterhams now and although the gap was closer in this morning’s Free Practice session, I hope we can have a better fight with them tomorrow, despite the setback of the grid penalty. We’ve done a good job of improving the car balance and we didn’t get enough of an opportunity to really show that in qualifying, but I do feel more confident for the race now. ”
Max Chilton: “I’m really pleased with the progress we’ve made with the car this weekend. I’m also really encouraged by my pace compared to Jules, which this afternoon was just over a tenth away. We obviously can’t be sure yet what the weather will bring but based on the work we’ve done so far I’m quite happy and looking forward to 51 laps of the Korea International Circuit tomorrow in my first race here.”
John Booth, Team Principal: “This weekend we have found the car balance quite tricky to get right. Both drivers have had differing balances on the two types of tyre at various points in the weekend which inevitably creates a bit of a challenge in terms of ensuring we could get the best out of the cars in qualifying. Overnight and in FP3, both drivers worked hard with their engineering crews to improve the balance of the cars and by the time we got into Qualifying we seemed to have arrived at a good place. The first runs were really encouraging and good traffic and clear out laps helped to put the drivers right with the Caterhams. Unfortunately the traffic at the end of the Q1 session was quite difficult to manage and we didn’t get the best of it and therefore didn’t quite gain what we had hoped on our second runs. Overall, it’s clear to see that we have made good steps since Budapest to be back in contention with the our nearest competitors and our promising race pace on Friday means that we should be able to race them tomorrow. All weekend we’ve been working with the threat of rain for the race in mind. While that does seems to be less likely now we won’t be sure until the morning. Either way I’m sure we all feel very motivated to build on a positive weekend so far.”
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