Track evolution and tyre degradation were the primary engineering challenges in Bahrain today, where the fortunes of the Marussia F1 Team were divided in this afternoon's qualifying session.
Charles Pic ended the day 21st on the timesheets after a solid progression through FP3 this morning, followed by a tidy Q1 performance. Changes made during the break between sessions appear to have paid dividends and as he is well-acquainted with this track from his GP2 days, familiarity is certainly breeding confidence here.
The day has not been without its challenges for both drivers, however, and the track evolution with the expected temperature hike caused a balance shift which hampered Timo Glock's efforts in particular. Having banked a set of Pirelli P-Zero Soft tyres for tomorrow's race in view of the degradation rate here, everything rested on the hot lap of his second run. As he battled for grip, he went off track at unlucky turn 13 and the opportunity was lost, leaving him P23 at the end of the Q1 session.
Charles Pic: "Not an easy day today, but I am quite happy with the result. This afternoon it was much hotter as forecast and the tyre degradation was maybe a little worse with the rears. We seem to have managed this quite well though and generally the team has done a good job through the day to keep pushing forward. The race will be tough as we will struggle with the tyres for sure, but we were quite conservative with them today so that we improve our chances for tomorrow and now we will have to see. For now, it has been good to get to grips with this track again and a good day."
Timo Glock: "Not a very good Saturday for us. We struggled massively in terms of the car balance again this morning and also in qualifying because of too much instability at the rear under braking. The lap itself was not too bad until Turn 13, where I made a massive mistake and I think I lost everything in that corner. I tried to do a cool-down on the second lap, but the rear tyres were off already and we only had one set of the Soft tyres as we were trying to save them for the race tomorrow. So not the best at all and it is a shame that a fuel pick-up problem meant that we also dropped behind one of the HRTs as well. We'll have to see what we can do in the race now. We've saved tyres, which is good, but I have my concerns about the rears again for tomorrow."
John Booth, Team Principal: "A very good job from Charles today in somewhat challenging conditions, given the quite severe tyre degradation issues we have been seeing. His solid progress in the four race weekends so far has not gone unnoticed and rightly so, as he has been applying himself fantastically well. The track evolution here has been posing a few problems, but Charles seems to have had the measure of them all weekend and his experience of racing here previously in GP2 is obviously a contributing factor. During Timo's first run in qualifying we unfortunately experienced a fuel pick-up problem, which left him saddled with a significantly higher fuel load for his second run to overcome this. Timo then made a mistake at Turn 13, which was a real shame because he was going well before that. Unfortunately, a consequence of that has been that we will now have to start behind one of the HRT cars tomorrow, so Timo's first mission will be to displace them before he sets about the onerous task that both drivers will face in managing the tyres through the race. They each have an extra set of the Soft tyre in hand and we know our race pace is strong against the cars around us. It will be a tough race tomorrow, but certainly an interesting one."
Check out our Qualifying gallery, here.