The Frenchman has so far impressed in his debut Formula 1 season, consistently out pacing team-mate Max Chilton and showing that Marussia have made steps forward.
The Anglo-Russian team fell behind Caterham in Bahrain but they are confident that they can remain ahead of them in the constructors table. However they are confident that they can make more steps towards the midfield team in Spain, but they are well aware that Caterham will also be bringing significant upgrades.
Discussing the boosted confidence with returning to circuit’s that he knows well, Bianchi said in a team statement “Although my first four races have been quite positive – and a nice adventure for me personally – as a driver in my debut season it is good to be heading into the start of the European season.”
He has previously raced at the Circuit de Catalunya in other formulae including GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5, “The tracks are very familiar to me from previous formulae and that just provides a further confidence with interpreting the information we collect and how we roll that back into performance.”
The 23-year-old admits that the team have been busy back at the factory over the three-week break and that he is eager to return to the cockpit of his MR02 this weekend. “The Team have spent a lot of time analysing our progress so it will be good to verify our findings with the package so far and of course to explore our new developments for Spain. I’m looking forward to getting busy in the car again.”
His British team-mate Max Chilton has had a difficult start to his debut season but admits that both he and the team have learned a lot over the first four fly-away races. “It will be great to get back down to business in Spain, where there will be a lot to focus our attentions on.” he admitted. “We’ve learned a lot in the first four races and quite a lot since, with the technical team having been hard at it in the break.”
The 22-year-old rookie knows that the updates being brought to Barcelona will be important and he admits that the progression will be interesting to see. “What we bring to the Circuit de Catalunya is the product of four races of evaluation coupled with the next step in our ongoing development path, so it will be interesting to see how we can progress from Bahrain.”
Looking more at the track, he reveals that the circuit is one that he enjoys racing on and has experience with. “On a personal level this is a track I enjoy and have raced at plenty of times, and that will also be useful as we work through a busy evaluation programme on Friday in particular. I’m looking forward to it.”
Chilton will make way for the team’s reserve driver Rodolfo Gonzalez in first practice but will return to the cockpit for the afternoon session on Friday.
Meanwhile looking at the broader picture, Team Principal John Booth admits that it has been a “whirlwind” start to the season for the team. “After a good long break since the Bahrain Grand Prix, we head into Europe feeling refreshed and prepared for the start of the next phase of races. It was a whirlwind start to the season for us in some ways and the past few weeks have allowed the drivers in particular to draw a little more breath.”
He also concedes that the Circuit de Catalunya always provides an “interesting” race because it helps to show the cars progression. “Barcelona is always an interesting race as it provides a very good barometer of car performance up and down the grid and also the benefit of the new upgrades most teams will bring to their cars. We are no exception and having tested here over two weeks pre-season, we’ll be taking the opportunity to use that baseline data to further analyse our progress to date, conducting some back to back work with our Bahrain package prior to fielding our new developments for this race.”
So it will be a busy Friday and Saturday morning for the team as they test and assess their new upgrades, as will all the other teams. Whilst he admits that last weekend was tough, he is positive and hopeful that the team can moving back ahead of Caterham and have a good race weekend. “Bahrain has always been a race that we have struggled at so we are hoping that the Circuit de Catalunya will provide further confirmation of the positive development direction we have been following.”
The team currently lie 10th in the constructors thanks to Jules Bianchi’s 13th place in Malaysia, but Barcelona will be important to measure their chances of latching on to the midfield.
Image courtesy of Marussia F1 Team