The Marussia F1 Team missed out on a place in Q2 today by the narrowest of margins, with Max Chilton delivering a lap just 0.11 s shy of the P17 cut-off.
Jules Bianchi was within a tenth of his team-mate as they ended their first runs, but there was a problem starting his car for the second run and a red flag brought out following Ericsson’s crash put paid to the plan of a late, traffic-busting second charge for Max.
Max ended the day in 18th position, with Jules just behind in 19th place.
Nonetheless, the weekend so far has revealed definite signs of further progress with the Marussia-Ferrari package, and at a track that the team had fully expected to be less favourable to the MR03.
Max Chilton #4: “We came here off the back of a great result for the team in Monaco, but fully expecting to struggle rather more at a circuit that has never really suited our car in previous seasons. I think we are all a little surprised, but pleasantly so, because it really underlines how much progress we’ve made with the car in all conditions and at a variety of circuits. We’ve had a very positive couple of days and we were hoping to be able to wrap all that into a great Qualifying, which we started to do on the first run. That was a good lap, but there was definitely room for improvement, but the red flag put paid to that. We have to look on the bright side though because it’s a further sign that our progress is genuine and not the product of one race. My plan for tomorrow is to aim to keep everyone behind me and hopefully have a nice fight with the cars ahead.”
Jules Bianchi #17: “It’s a disappointing way to end our Qualifying because after the minimal running I had yesterday, we were back on it for FP3 this morning. The car seems very good here this weekend, which is nice to see because it shows that our improvements have helped us master a circuit that does not typically suit us. My first run was okay considering the small amount of time I have spent in the car with low fuel and Options this weekend. There was no chance to improve on the second [run] because we had a problem starting the car and, in any case, the red flag came out and no one was able to improve. We start with the Caterhams behind me, so I just have to focus on the race in front of me and I’m sure we can fight back and have a good race.”
John Booth, Team Principal: “This morning we enjoyed a positive FP3 session, with both cars running to programme. In light of Jules’ lack of running yesterday, we put him on a high fuel run initially, in which he demonstrated good pace. Max was working through optimising the fine detail on the set-up of his car and we ended the session pleased with our overall performance. Qualifying went well for Max on his first run. Despite missing the second run due to the red flag, when there was plenty of potential for track improvement, he can be very pleased with his overall performance here, missing out on Q2 only by a very narrow margin. Jules was not quite happy with his first run but clearly this is a product of his lack of track time on low fuel with the Option tyre this weekend. Unfortunately, he missed his second run due to an issue with starting the engine, however, as was the case with Max, the red flag put paid to any chance of improving anyway. It’s been a tough weekend in the garage, with a huge amount of work to do to keep the cars on track. It seems we also have a few gremlins to iron out on Jules’ car before the race tomorrow, so we will spend the time today working on this. We look forward to what should be a promising race.”