Marussia had a very mixed day that began well before noon, giving Tio Ellinas his first try at a Formula One car on a normal racing circuit. The afternoon however saw Max Chilton in the car only briefly as he faces car issues that prevented more running.
GP3 Series leader Tio Ellinas, who drives for the Marussia Manor Racing GP3 squad that is part of the Marussia F1 Team’s Young Driver Programme, was at the wheel of the MR02 this morning. This was Tio’s second outing in a Formula 1 car, the first occasion being our straight-line test at Kemble last month. It was however his first taste of the MR02 on a more typical racing circuit. In hot and sunny conditions, Tio had a clear run at his programme, which began with some acclimatisation runs to familiarise him with the car’s systems before building up to the deployment of KERS and the DRS, and further systems and controls tasks.
This afternoon, an ECU problem gave rise to a longer than anticipated break in the run plan. Max Chilton, scheduled for the full afternoon, commenced his programme of tyre testing with only an hour of the session remaining.
Tio Ellinas, #41, MR02-01, 1:36.676, 36 laps: “Without doubt, today has been the best moment of my life. It was a fantastic experience that I know I will remember forever. I feel very proud to be representing my country and to have so much support from the people back home in Cyprus. I have driven the car once before, at the Team’s straight-line test at Kemble, but this was my first time out in a Formula 1 car at a proper circuit and so it felt like the first time all over again. There was a lot of familiarisation to do at the start of the day. I obviously have some experience of things like the very complex layout on the steering wheel; it’s still so much to take in though. I was also using KERS and DRS today for the first time and there is such a lot to think about over the course of a lap. I soon built up my confidence though and after a few single lap runs I was building up to longer runs and I was really able to start putting a lap together. I am happy with my performance today and the Team seem pleased with me. I have received some great feedback and support from them so I can’t thank them enough for that. Everything has gone according to plan so I can’t ask for any more than that right now. Now I will try to refocus on the GP3 Championship and my ambitions for that this season.”
Max Chilton, #23, MR02-01, 1:38.347, 27 laps: “My afternoon programme has been very brief due to a problem with the ECU, so I didn’t get much time in the car - just 58 minutes. At least we were able to complete some of the planned work with the tyres though and any running is always useful. It has been another long break between races but Hungary holds such special memories for me from my GP2 win there last year, so I’m really looking forward to returning next week. In the meantime we have the important occasion of Moscow City Racing this weekend and I will be heading there tomorrow.”
John Booth, Team Principal: “It has definitely been a day of two halves. The whole team was pleased to see Tio in the car this morning as just reward for his very positive debut season in GP3 last year. He got off to a good start, conducting some aero measurements similar to those he ran through in Kemble and then he set about completing some timed laps. It is clearly a huge amount for the young drivers to take in, stepping up from GP3 to F1 and working with not only many more people but more complicated systems on the cars. However, Tio took all of this in his stride and achieved the objective of improving every run, running two good qualifying simulations on the soft tyres. The plan for lunchtime was to switch the drivers over and start a tyre test for Pirelli in the afternoon but unfortunately we experienced several issues with ECUs on the car. The Team has worked hard with MESL to try to solve these issues, however there is still a lot to understand. Unfortunately all of this meant that we severely compromised Max’s tyre test this afternoon, although we were at least able to provide Pirelli with some information on the new prototype hard tyre.”