The whole Marussia team were feeling elated after both Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton made it into the second phase of qualifying for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, the first time in the team’s history that both cars have made it out of Q3.
The Marussia pair, who qualified 15th and 16th, gambled on tyre strategy on their final run of the first phase of qualifying, making the decision to switch from the intermediate tyres that the rest of the field were on, in favour of the medium compound dry tyres.
The gamble paid off perfectly for the Banbury based squad, as on a drying track the medium tyres came into their element, and by virtue of their new found pace both Bianchi and Chilton jumped ahead of the Williams and Toro Rosso pairings as well as Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez.
Bianchi, who recorded the best qualifying result of his Formula One career to date, could scarcely contain his pleasure over what had been a special day for both him and his team.
“Today is a fantastic result for the Team, who were so happy to be back in Q2”, said the 24-year-old”. This was a nice feeling for everybody, including myself, as this was also the first Q2 of my F1 career. Things have been steadily improving for us over the weekend and I’m really happy that all the hard work paid off for us today.
The Frenchman explained that it had been his decision to stay out the medium tyre, despite the gamble to switch from the intermediates not appearing to have initially worked and added that he would be doing everything he could to capitalise on any mixed weather on Sunday.
“This result was not about luck because everyone was faced with the same dilemma at the end of the Q1 session; whether it might be too dry for the Intermediate tyre or too wet for slicks. On the first lap on the final run it was hard to make up my mind what to do; only the drivers could see what the track condition was really like and it was different from corner to corner. By the end of the lap I had decided just to go for it and stay on the Medium tyre and that gamble was exactly the right call.
“Tomorrow we line up on the seventh row, which will be a nice moment, but of course we don’t really know what the weather will bring. We have everything to gain and we will make the most of every opportunity.”
Max Chilton in the sister Marussia was also suitably pleased with the result and will line up just behind his team-mate on the grid in 16th, and like him made the decision to stick on the medium tyre even when it appeared that the gamble might have back-fired, with the Brit outside the 107% time needed to qualify at one stage of the session.
“What a great day for everyone! Together with Jules I’m so pleased to help put the Team into Q2 again”, he said. “It was such a tricky qualifying, and as we can see from the classification, it’s difficult to make the right calls at a track where the lap is so long that the conditions are so different from corner to corner.
“When we switched to the dry tyre for the final run I was worried we may have made the wrong call and might have to switch back to the Intermediate but I also knew the track was drying quickly and we could easily make another wrong call by changing back. The engineers put the decision in my hands and I was undecided until the final corner, when I just made a judgment call in an instant and opted to stay out. I’m happy to say it was the right call.”
Marussia’s Team Principal John Booth added his praises to that of his two drivers, congratulating the team on pulling off a great result in what was a difficult operational scenario, stating it was a fitting reward for the team having struggled over recent races.
“Today’s result is a great reward for all the hard work the Team and Cosworth have carried out to come back from a challenging set of races recently to enable us to fare better at circuits which now play to the strength of our package.”
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