Marussia’s qualifying performance was hampered by balance issues on their MR-02 machine, which prevented both Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton from setting faster lap times around Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya. The Banbury-based outfit was thwarted at the last minute by the Caterham of Giedo van der Garde, eventually qualifying 20th and 21st.
Despite enjoying a competitive start to the new season, Marussia has since been reeled in by rivals Caterham in what has so far been a captivating battle towards the back of the pack for the coveted 10th position in the Constructors’ Championship. So far Marussia has enjoyed the upper-hand over Caterham, however recently the Leafield-based outfit has begun to take the fight to their rivals.
During qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, the Marussia duo were unable to out-perform both Caterham drivers, with Dutch rookie Giedo van der Garde eventually storming to his personal best qualifying result with 19th. Just like the majority of the teams up and down the grid, Marussia has introduced several upgrades for this weekend’s race, and sport a completely new development package. Although both drivers were pleased with the changes made to the car overnight after the opening two practice sessions, both Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton were still plagued with balance issues.
“We had a good Free Practice 3 session this morning and the changes we had made seemed to move us on quite a bit from yesterday.” Explained Jules Bianchi, who has so far shone for Marussia. “We found more grip but the car is still not well-balanced and this is the most I could get from it today. The balance was quite variable in the first and last sector on different laps and I’m still not happy in the high-speed corners. We need to go through the data and understand what I can do in the race tomorrow to manage these situations.”
So far Max Chilton has been unable to out-qualify Jules Bianchi this season, with the Frenchman impressing many with his drives towards the back of the pack. Once again Max Chilton qualified behind his Marussia team-mate, however the GP2 graduate is remaining positive for tomorrow’s 66-lap Spanish Grand Prix despite the ongoing balance issues with the MR-02.
“We’re not there yet with the balance of the car but I am pleased with the progress we have made since yesterday.” Said Max Chilton, “My first lap in particular was strong and I’m definitely feeling the benefit of not having lost track time this weekend. I feel like I’ve been able to demonstrate more of my progress. I’m really looking forward to the race now.”
Although both Marussia and Caterham have yet to score a World Championship point this season, the Banbury-based outfit are currently ahead in the Constructors’ Championship thanks to Jules Bianchi’s 13th at the Malaysian Grand Prix earlier in the season. To rise ahead of Marussia in the Championship, Caterham must either score their first World Championship point or finish higher than 12th. The battle towards the back of the pack between the two teams is extremely tight, and will remain an intriguing aspect of the sport for the majority of the season.
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