Wet conditions played a defining role in today’s qualifying session for the 2014 Formula 1™ UBS Chinese Grand Prix, in which the Marussia F1 Team drivers experienced mixed fortunes.
Jules Bianchi had experienced a difficult Free Practice 3 session and was quite unhappy with the car. The Team made some set-up changes during the break to try to improve things for qualifying and the changes were successful, with Jules declaring himself very happy with the balance at the start of Q1.
He was demonstrating strong pace in the damp and greasy conditions but he ran wide in the last corner losing valuable time, which allowed Kobayashi to steal the advantage. He qualified in 19th position with a lap time of 1:59.326.
Conversely, Max had a better FP3 session but was less comfortable with the balance for qualifying. He ended Q1 in P21 with a best lap of 2:00.865.
Jules Bianchi #17: “This morning I was really unhappy with the car but we made some changes in the break and they worked out perfectly for qualifying, even though the track was quite tricky with the rain. I was having a good battle with Kobayashi, trading times in the changing conditions, but on my quick lap I ran wide in the last corner and this meant that he was able to get ahead. However, we were very close, even with my mistake, so it looks like we can enjoy a good race tomorrow in what will be better conditions.”
Max Chilton #4: “I’m quite frustrated with that qualifying session. The car was really good in FP3 this morning, but I struggled with the balance in qualifying and couldn’t get a clean lap together. The conditions out there were quite difficult but I still felt that there was more to come had I been happier with the balance. Nonetheless, tomorrow is another day so I’ll take my frustration and try to turn that into another good race performance.”
John Booth, Team Principal: “Today’s two sessions saw mixed fortunes for the drivers, with Max very happy with his performance in FP3 and Jules in qualifying. Overnight Jules tried an experimental set-up for FP3 and unfortunately this didn’t work out particularly well in the wet conditions. Max stayed with a more conventional set-up from FP2, was happy in the session and had a very good lap on the first intermediate run in FP3. Over the break it was clear we had to change the set-up on Jules’ car back to his FP2 configuration, which was quite an involved change for the mechanics, but they did well to get the car back together in time for qualifying. It was always going to be a tough decision on tyres at the start of qualifying and it seems the track was exactly on the crossover between the intermediate and the extreme wet, with ourselves and Caterham trading lap times on the different tyres. In the end we stopped to fit the intermediate tyre and, whilst Jules lost some time on his lap which meant he just lost out to Kobayashi, Max struggled with the balance of his car compared to FP3. We will look into what happened with Max and spend the night preparing for what looks to be a dry race tomorrow.”