Jules Bianchi was brimming with joy at securing both his and Marussia’s maiden points finish in Formula 1 at the Monaco Grand Prix, after the Frenchman muscled his way to finish eighth on the road. However, after serving a drive-thru penalty for starting the race in the wrong grid slot under safety car conditions, Bianchi had five seconds added to his race time which saw him drop a position to ninth, collecting two points.
Since the start of the season in Australia it was clear that Marussia had managed to continue improving throughout the winter period, despite the monumental overhaul in the sporting and technical regulations.
After finishing ahead of arch-rivals Caterham last season despite not scoring a single point, the battle between the two teams for the coveted tenth position in the Championship was immediately rekindled once the season got underway.
After the first five rounds Marussia sat ahead of their rivals Caterham in the Championship, thanks to two 13th place finishes from Max Chilton at Australia and Bahrain.
With the outfit clearly edging ever closer to the midfield teams such as Lotus and Sauber, both Chilton and Bianchi entered the iconic Monaco Grand Prix weekend optimistic of the chance to close the gap even further and continue with their competitiveness.
However, after yellow flags ruined the pair’s qualifying efforts during Q1, the duo were set to line up just 19th and 20th on the grid, before Bianchi was forced to change his gearbox and incur a grid penalty, dropping him to 21st.
Despite the minor setback, the Frenchman catapulted himself into 16th position after the opening lap, with his sights set firmly on another competitive result.
As the race continued Bianchi, Chilton as well as Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez were branded with five second stop/go penalties for starting the race in the wrong grid position. This was caused due to Pastor Maldonado’s fuel pump issue at the start of the formation lap, with the Venezuelan’s Lotus car being wheeled into the pit-lane and therefore creating the irregularity with the grid slots further down the order.
After mistakingly serving his penalty during the second safety car period, the Ferrari starlet was once again struck with a five second timed penalty, but after the retirement of Gutierrez and the collision between Kimi Raikkonen and Kevin Magnussen, the Frenchman still managed to finish within the points despite his post-race timed penalty, which dropped him from eighth to ninth.
“Wow. What a race and what a result for the whole team,” enthused Bianchi. “I am just incredibly happy, but first of all I have to pay credit to everyone at the Marussia F1 Team for making this possible.
“Nobody knows just how much work and determination goes into our races, so today I am thrilled that I have helped them to achieve their long-held target of our first points. To achieve them together makes me very proud.
“My thanks to everyone here in Monaco, the rest of the team in Banbury and also to our powertrain partners, Scuderia Ferrari, because together we have all made great progress, particularly since the Barcelona test.
“It was not an easy race; there were some enjoyable highs along the way, but also a couple of concerning moments too. What matters at the end is that we got there and we can savour the highlights for a long time to come.”
After finally scoring their first points in Formula 1, Marussia now rise to ninth in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of both Sauber and long-time rivals Caterham.
With the team continuing to improve and close the gap to the midfield, they will undoubtedly be looking to once again knock on the door of the points paying positions later in the season.
Chilton recorded his 25th consecutive finish at Monaco, finishing 14th albeit three laps off of the leaders.
For Jules Bianchi the Monaco Grand Prix was unquestionably a dream come true, with the Frenchman securing his maiden points finish in practically his home race and showing just how much Marussia have improved from their rookie days as Virgin Racing way back in 2010.
Picture(s) Copyright © Marussia F1 Team