In a race that proved to be every bit as interesting as anticipated, Marussia F1 drivers Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton did well to fend off their direct competitors, thereby also achieving their third two-car finish in as many races.
The 56 lap Chinese Grand Prix was a tough challenge and strategy and tyre management created a race-long dialogue between the pit wall and the drivers. Jules and Max made three pitstops apiece, both starting on the Pirelli PZero Soft tyre and completing the remaining three stints on the Medium compound.
Jules Bianchi, #22, MR02-02, 15th: “I am very happy to finish in 15th place today, but it was a tough race and to be honest I was happy to see the chequered flag after quite a difficult final stint holding onto the tyres. I got a good start and held position for quite a while before Pic was able to get ahead when we ran a slightly longer first stint. I spent the next two stints making up the time before retaking track position at the third round of pitstops. After that I was running with Maldonado and it was encouraging that I was able to maintain the gap to him for quite some time. Towards the end of the race though I had to focus on the tyre management more while ensuring that I kept the gap to Pic behind me. Those final laps seemed to last for an eternity but we got the right result in the end. Overall it was an enjoyable race - certainly my most challenging yet - and I think we have all learned even more about the tyres today. I think we have made another good step and it will be important to maintain this in Bahrain before we can then switch focus to what we will bring for Europe.”
Max Chilton, #23, MR02-03, 17th: “Again, I think we have good reason to focus on the positives today as the race went well for me and the car felt good. I’m pleased that we end our time in China on a stronger note after a few challenges along the way. I didn’t get the best start but things improved through the race and that was reflected in my lap time relative to Van Der Garde. So looking at what has been a good race and also the signs from Free Practice earlier in the weekend, it’s all starting to come together I think. Importantly, we brought home another good combined result for the Team and demonstrated that we can understand and respond to issues quickly to achieve the right outcome. I hope that we will have an easier time of it in Bahrain so I can make another positive start to the weekend and then have the opportunity to maintain that momentum.”
John Booth, Team Principal: “We predicted a challenging race today and it certainly did keep the engineers on their toes and the drivers very keenly focused on what they needed to do to look after the tyres. Both Jules and Max did a great job to keep their heads down and drive very strong races, putting up a good fight with the cars around them when they needed to, whilst also keeping one eye on the big picture to ensure the right outcome. In the early part of the race we had to change our strategy slightly by extending our first stint and this allowed Caterham to get ahead when they stopped before us, but we made up that time over the course of the race and regained position. Overall, another good result for the Team and our third two car finish in as many races. The weekend has not been without its difficulties, particularly for Max, but all credit to him for maintaining his characteristically mature and positive demeanour throughout to help us overcome those problems and get ourselves back on track. A short gap before we do it all over again in Bahrain in just seven days’ time, when I hope we will achieve an equally positive outcome but with a little less pain along the way.”