After four seasons and six races of sheer grit and determination, the Marussia F1 Team finally achieved its long-awaited first points-scoring finish in today’s Monaco Grand Prix.
In his home race on the streets of the Principality, Jules Bianchi delivered a fantastic race performance in pursuit of the championship point he and the team so badly craved. Then, much like buses, two came along at once, as he ended the race 8th on the road but 9th in the final classification.
Jules started the race in 21st position after a gearbox penalty dropped him to the back of the grid, save for Ericsson who was starting from 22nd position but from the pit lane. Jules made a perfect start, gaining five places to be 16th by the end of the first lap.
A short while into the race, the team received five second penalties for each of its drivers, after they were deemed to have been out of position on the grid. With Maldonado unable to start the race, the back of the field had each moved forward a grid slot.
From 15th position Jules made his first pit stop on lap 29 and also served his five second penalty at the same time. He continued to make progess through the race and on lap 40 pulled off a brilliantly opportunistic move to dispense with Kobayashi at Rascasse. From then on, Jules was pretty much unstoppable, climbing up to 10th position, at which time a further forfeit was imposed for the team having served the previous penalty under the Safety Car. As he was not planning to make a further pit stop, this would need to take the form of five seconds being added to his time at the end of the race. Just as that elusive point seemed like it may not happen, a yellow flag incident involving Magnussen and Raikkinen propelled him to 8th position. With the addition of a five second time penalty he was relegated to 9th, although this secured the Marussia F1 Team’s first two World Championship points. The team is also promoted to 9th position in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
It was a much tougher race for Max Chilton, who bogged down at the start and lost places, then went on to lose a lap after an unplanned pit stop following a coming together with Kimi Raikkonen. Nonetheless, he drove a strong race and ultimately extended his record to 25 finishes in 25 races.
Jules Bianchi #17: “Wow. What a race and what a result for the whole team. I am just incredibly happy, but first of all I have to pay credit to everyone at the Marussia F1 Team for making this possible. Nobody knows just how much work and determination goes into our races, so today I am thrilled that I have helped them to achieve their long-held target of our first points. To achieve them together makes me very proud. My thanks to everyone here in Monaco, the rest of the team in Banbury and also to our powertrain partners, Scuderia Ferrari, because together we have all made great progress, particularly since the Barcelona Test. This gave us the confidence to push and we certainly did that here this weekend. It was not an easy race; there were some enjoyable highs along the way, but also a couple of concerning moments too. What matters at the end is that we got there and we can savour the highlights for a long time to come. I would also like to thank the Ferrari Driver Academy, who support me every step of my career.”
Max Chilton #4: “I am very proud to be a part of something so special today. For a small team to have such a result is a huge boost for the future. Obviously, I have mixed emotions, as everything that could have gone wrong for me today, did. But that is racing and I know I will have my chance one day to get some points for the team. Well done to everyone and now I am really motivated heading into Montreal.”
John Booth, Team Principal: “Naturally we are overjoyed at today’s result and it is a fantastic reward for all the hard work and determination, not just this year, but over the past four and a bit seasons. My congratulations to the team here in Monaco, back at base in Banbury and our much newer colleagues at Scuderia Ferrari. Our powertrain partnership is young, but we saw the potential right from the start of the relationship and we are now really starting to see the results of a true integration. A lot of this weekend’s clear step stems from the progress that we made at the recent Barcelona Test. We were cautiously optimistic about our performance increment, but we really needed to see it translate into a good race here in Monaco before we could feel too confident. We are only a young team, but we have every reason to believe in ourselves and a positive future. Clearly, in today’s race, we benefited from some attrition but, throughout, we were running at a pace that allowed us to stay in position with the cars around us. It is clear that we are now able to race with the back of the midfield pack. The penalty situation was a cause for concern and the way in which we served this with Jules was the product of some unusual circumstances, but we understand and accept the decisions. Thankfully, the second penalty was not the determining factor that it could have been. A tough day for Max; today simply didn’t go his way, but we are pleased for him that his finishing record continues.”
Mattia Binotto, Scuderia Ferrari Engine & Electronics Deputy Director: “On behalf of the Scuderia Ferrari, I want to congratulate the Marussia F1 Team for this historic result. The first points finish for this team is a well-deserved reward for the hard work they’re doing in such a competitive environment as Formula 1. For our part, we are pleased to have made our contribution to the achievement of a goal pursued [over] time and I would like also to thank the group of Ferrari technicians and mechanics who worked from the beginning of the year with the team based in Banbury. Jules achieved a flawless performance from every point of view, confirming that he is one of the most talented young drivers currently in F1. This ninth place should be a starting point and not an arrival for the collaboration between the Scuderia and the Marussia: there is still much work to do and lots of room to grow together. In a very challenging weekend in terms of reliability we are pleased to have seen both Ferrari-powered Marussias finish once again the race. It’s true that there have been some problems over the weekend but we were able to handle them together and we got once more the first goal of each grand prix: [to drive] under the chequered flag.”