The Marussia F1 Team’s Max Chilton will start his first Japanese Grand Prix from 19th position on the grid after helping the team to achieve its first objective of the weekend, out-qualifying Caterham.
It wasn’t just one of the team’s direct competitors he dispensed with, but both Pic and van der Garde in the closing minutes of a Q1 session which had just resumed following a red flag period. As the whole field peeled out of the pit lane with enough time for just an out-lap and a single flier, Max delivered a seamless performance to ensure he trounced the Marussia F1 Team’s main adversaries in the battle for the all-important 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Jules’ misfortune continued into qualifying on a weekend where has achieved just 33 laps of the Suzuka Circuit in total, 8 of those in a different chassis. Despite ending the day in a disappointing 22nd position, he has ended a tumultuous weekend just a tenth away from van der Garde on only his second low fuel Option lap of the weekend.
Max Chilton: “I’m so happy to have put us ahead of both Caterhams in qualifying for the first time since China. One would have been a result, but to beat both Pic and van der Garde is really incredible and shows just how much fight there is in all of us at this crucial stage in the season. It has not been the most straightforward weekend for us on track and leaving the garage after the red flag, with just under three minutes of the Q1 session, remaining seemed like a tough ask. The track conditions had also shifted in that time and the wind made things more difficult in sector One for sure. I gave it all I had and my lap was as good as I could have asked of myself. I’m just really looking forward to my first Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka and I hope we can carry the momentum through into the race tomorrow. Well done to all of us in the team.”
Jules Bianchi: “It’s a really good achievement for the team to have got the car back to a stage where we are capable of outclassing the Caterhams on merit, so this is positive news for the remaining races. As for here, it has been a bit of a struggle since FP1 and with only 33 laps over the weekend so far – most of them from this morning – we haven’t had the opportunity to get back to where we started out so well on Friday morning, plus we have had to focus mainly on the race. Qualifying did not work out so well for me. We had planned to do just one option run but because of the red flag my quick lap was on scrubbed rather than new options. The race will be hard as well because there is a big job to do from the back row. On a positive, the Team have done a fantastic job with building up the car and enabling me to get so close to van der Garde in such a small space of time and this is an achievement in itself. I hope to build on that tomorrow and have a better race.”
John Booth, Team Principal: “We spent a busy night in both the engineering office and in the garage, but I am pleased to say that the hard work paid off this morning and Jules’ chassis was ready in good time to ensure a swift resumption of running. We hadn’t had the best car balance with either driver yesterday and after going through the data the engineers came up with a revised package for this morning which has paid dividends on both cars. With Jules, our main focus this weekend was always going to be on the race, given his penalty, so in FP3 he did high fuel running on both types of tyres. This of course meant that we were asking a lot of him in qualifying as we planned to only use one set of Option tyres, again with one eye … on the race. Unfortunately, his run of bad luck continued with the red flag deployed on this single run. Given that we had already decided to save tyres for the race, there seemed little point in taking another new tyre in qualifying, but in actual fact he showed impressive pace on his scrubbed tyres in the final run this afternoon. Max has benefited from improved car balance this morning and he delivered a good first run in qualifying, albeit he was a little unlucky with traffic on his first lap. He got a fantastic final run and overall we are delighted with his finishing position. With Max’s grid slot, and an arsenal of new tyres available for Jules, I’m sure both drivers can have a good race.”
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