Today was a day where the Marussia F1 Team can rightly consider P21 for Timo Glock and P22 for Charles Pic a qualified success. Their positions belie a monumental effort by the whole team to get an untested car through its pivotal first qualifying session, and to finish well inside the 107% qualifying time, with no reliability issues whatsoever.
It was a positive, if fast-moving, start to the day. The weather was clear, dry and sunny, providing vastly improved track conditions, so the team needed to take full advantage of its first opportunity for some dry running. Equipped with an extra set of tyres thanks to yesterday's rain-affected practice, the team seared through a programme of set-up work and tyre evaluations in FP3, which provided a fair degree of engineering homework for the lunch break.
The qualifying session came around all too quickly and the scale of the task was not lost on a single team member, least of all Marussia F1 Team's new rookie Charles Pic, who has certainly been thrown in at the deep end in his debut season. Both drivers made changes during their two runs, improving the car and their lap times to end the day very respectably indeed.
Timo Glock: "Free Practice 3 was my first chance to drive the car in stable conditions and it was clear that we had a lot of work to do on set-up. We had a big programme for practice, and qualifying actually, and we made a lot of changes, all of which were the right ones and made us a little step better each time. I am very pleased with what we have achieved so far. Mechanically I'm very happy with the car and everything is working well. We've all had a great lift but we have a long way to go and plenty of hard work to do to make the car quicker. The baseline is right but we have a lot of catching up to do. I have to say though that I am looking forward to the future and it feels great to have fun driving a Formula 1 car again!"
Charles Pic: "Today has been non-stop and we have had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time. Everyone has worked so hard to get us to a good position for qualifying and the race, and I would like to thank the whole team for their support, which has been incredible. We haven't had the best preparation and there is more to come that we don't even know about yet. I'm happy for today and for the team. Tomorrow is another day and I have to keep pushing hard for the race. I am very excited but I want to stay focused and leave the weekend knowing I got everything I could ask from myself in my first race."
John Booth, Team Principal: "After Timo's 12th place in yesterday's FP2 session, we can't be disheartened by our positions in today's qualifying. We've had a massive mountain to climb and we're still a long way from the top, but we are all aware that things could easily have gone in a far less positive direction for us so far this weekend. With an untested car, people might well have forgiven us for that as well. But even at this early stage we are a long way ahead of where we were. We've made huge progress and we haven't even started the job of unlocking the obvious potential of the MR01. I have to pay enormous credit to our two drivers. Despite the fact that we have barely scratched the surface, Timo is obviously enjoying himself again at the wheel, and rightly so. He's working hard to give us the right feedback and his positivity is a very good barometer for us. Charles has faced an enormous challenge and should feel very proud of what he has achieved so far. He is very 'hungry' and will be exciting to watch, for sure. As for tomorrow, we need to keep our feet on the ground and our minds focused because the race may well expose some of the frailties of the package that we have not yet had the chance to explore."
Check out our Saturday gallery, here.