The Marussia F1 Team achieved its objective of competing with Caterham in qualifying today, with Timo Glock posting a time just a 0.1s of Heikki Kovalainen during the Q1 session. Notwithstanding being disadvantaged by the lack of KERS versus the team ahead, Timo's performance was all the more impressive considering the balance problems hampering his efforts, which meant he had difficulty getting temperature into the front right tyre and left him battling for grip on the Pirelli PZero Hard and Soft tyre runs. He ended the day in P21.
Charles Pic also ended the day feeling there had been a lot more to come, after an anomalous second run whilst using the Soft option tyre left him struggling for pace versus his first run on the Hard tyre. He will start tomorrow's Indian Grand Prix from the back of the field.
Timo Glock: "Free Practice 3 this morning was okay but in qualifying we again experienced a more general problem with the overall balance. Even though the track is dirty, the grip level on the racing line is high, but we were unable to make the most of that because I was unable to get temperature into the front right. On my first run, using the Hard prime tyre, I got a reasonable time. On the second run, the Soft option felt okay and I had a really good first sector. I got a good slipstream from Perez and I was already 0.4s up on my lap. Due to the low temperature I strayed off track, got a massive flat-spot and effectively took the corner on three wheels. I also had a problem with the DRS activation in turn 10 and had to abort the first flying lap on the Soft tyre. Overall I am pleased that we have managed to close the gap to Caterham in qualifying now as well as the race; given that we don't have KERS, this is very pleasing for everyone in the Team. It is a shame though that the problems we did encounter today prevented us from splitting Petrov and Kovalainen because that was easily within our grasp. Looking to tomorrow, we have a good strategy and have given ourselves a couple of options to play with, so the aim now is to have a good race with the cars ahead and try to get the best result we can. My thanks to my car crew for their efforts here and the quick turnaround between runs, but also to the factory for continuing to push right to the end of the season."
Charles Pic: "Naturally I am a little disappointed with qualifying today because it was not a reflection of our true pace here. The first run on the Hard tyre was strong in sectors 1 and 2, but I had to abort the lap. In the second run, on the Soft tyre, we were less competitive than on the Hard tyre, which will take some analysis to understand. The overall lap time was better, but only because we were able to complete the lap. I think we have a lot of work to do to make sure we have the car performing well tomorrow, because our race pace is good. It will be difficult starting behind the HRTs but my objective will be to get past them as soon as possible as this will be crucial in enabling me to have a good race tomorrow, which I very much hope for."
John Booth, Team Principal: "In much the same vein as Korea, we approached qualifying very much with one eye on the race tomorrow. Whilst we are still pushing to close the gap to the cars in front in qualifying, in some respects we have to be realistic about how much progress we can make on low fuel. Clearly our car is performing much better on higher fuel, particularly this weekend, and so the decision to have only one Soft tyre run was entirely logical. Timo has been suffering with a handling trait in the car, which does appear to be inherent, however he has done a good job to string the best laps he can together in qualifying. What we do know is that he is much happier with the car in race trim. Charles did not quite get the best out of the Soft tyres today and so we will need to spend some time understanding why that was. Overall our position today was as good as we could hope for and we look forward to having a much more exciting race tomorrow."
Check out our qualifying gallery, here.