Finding a rhythm at the Bahrain International Circuit has proved a little elusive for Marussia so far this weekend, but there were signs of progress in overcoming the balance problems posed by the track in Free Practice yesterday. The team now hopes that after more issues today it can race without problems.
In this morning’s FP3 session, Max Chilton was forced to sit out the final 30 minutes due to a KERS water pump problem, which meant that he did not try the Pirelli PZero Medium tyre ahead of qualifying.
This afternoon, Jules ended the Qualifying session in 20th position. Max did a good job considering that he went into the session a little blind given his relative lack of running this morning, but he locked up into Turn 11 and lost time on the quick lap of his second run. He ended the day in P22.
Jules Bianchi, MP02-02, 6 laps, #22, 20th - start from 19th:
“After a positive start to the season, I think it has perhaps been a little frustrating for all of us that we have hit upon a circuit that is not so well-suited to our car. This happens - up and down the pitlane – but we have done a good job to stay focused and do what we can to make the best of it here. The balance problems we experienced yesterday were quite pronounced and gave us a tough start, but I think the direction we have taken to resolve them is a good one. Overall we have faith in our race pace and strategy and we will see tomorrow whether or not this was destined to be our race.”
Max Chilton, MR02-03, 6 laps, #23, 22nd - start from 21st:
“I’m much more comfortable heading into the race than today’s timesheet might suggest to be honest. After a good day yesterday we had the KERS water pump problem this morning and I lost half of the Free Practice 3 session. Although that wasn’t the best preparation for qualifying, with the running I did get I could see that the changes we made since yesterday are positive and we have made progress in the right direction. Things were going well in qualifying but unfortunately I locked up into Turn 11 and looking at the data I easily lost three to four tenths there. So, again, it’s a question of looking beyond the timesheets at where we really stand for the race tomorrow and staying focused. We’re playing the long game here in Bahrain this weekend, so if I can get the right side of Van Der Garde at the start I think we can show more of the progress we have made behind the scenes.”
John Booth, Team Principal: “The build-up to the race has not been entirely straightforward again, but we’re optimistic that, as was the case in China last weekend, we will experience a much better Sunday. There is no denying that this track has not favoured our car so well, but behind the scenes we’ve actually made good progress to overcome the balance issues which have been our main concern. A KERS water pump problem on Max’s car created another disappointing setback for him, so all credit to him for recovering so well in qualifying. He was disappointed with a small mistake on his second quick lap but looking beyond that he did the best job possible under the circumstances today and should be proud of the way he has responded to the challenges we’ve presented him with. Jules has also done his customary solid job and I think we can look forward to strong performances from both of them tomorrow.
“We now have a better understanding of the problem we experienced in the garage today with Jules’ car. This morning, a small amount of fuel was spilt due to an issue with the fuel connector. We examined all the components and made some changes ahead of qualifying, but unfortunately there was a further small fuel spillage this afternoon at the end of the session. On both occasions, at no point did the fuel ignite. The car crew were quick to respond with extinguishers as a precautionary measure, entirely in accordance with our procedures, and this served to make the situation appear rather more dramatic than it was. Having said that, getting to the root of the issue has been our highest priority, and we are now confident that the measures we have taken will prevent a re-occurrence.”