The new machine only arrived at the circuit on Wednesday afternoon and made its on-track debut late on Thursday, with Max Chilton at the wheel. Bianchi took over driving duties for the final day of winter testing at the Jerez circuit and completed 25 laps overall.
Despite missing the first two days of testing, the Banbury-based outfit still managed to gain more mileage than four-time constructors’ champions Red Bull Racing. “I was really excited to get my first taste of the new MR03 and I like it a lot,” said the Frenchman.
“The car feels great to drive and I’m pleased that I was able to achieve some good mileage. You always want more, of course, but there is a lot to work through and understand, so we have to be patient and go through the programme in the right way, especially as we have had damp conditions to contend with also.
“At the end, once we were happy with the systems work, it was nice to put the slicks on and start putting some laps together. It is early days but we were quite happy with the pace in the conditions and for our programme. Not a bad start.”
Chief engineer Dave Greenwood says the team is happy with the early signs from the new car. “It has been a very busy 48 hours for our Team since the MR03 arrived in Jerez,” he admitted. “We have had to squeeze rather a lot into that space of time in order to achieve our objectives for its debut test and to ensure we gathered plenty of information to work with.
“All in all, given the challenges we have faced, I think we have to be pretty pleased with the early signs from the new package and the positive response from our drivers. We have spent a lot of time understanding our systems, so it has taken a little while to build up a head of steam, but by the end of today we were starting to make some good progress. We now head back to the factory where we will spend a lot of time poring over the data we have collected in order to ensure we are well prepared for the next two tests in Bahrain.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic