The Marussia F1 Team's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend got off to a positive start today as the team commenced preparations for the only day-into-night 'twilight' race on the calendar. FP1 also marked the occasion of Max Chilton's first taste of race weekend running. The team's 21 year old Reserve Driver was elevated to the seat of car number #25 for the FP1 session, to provide him with the opportunity to demonstrate his potential and to ensure his preparedness for his reserve role in the remaining three races.
Max's programme consisted of engine mapping runs early on to 'get into' a circuit he knows reasonably well, together with some data collection for some new developments for 2013. The team predicted that the tyre life would be limited, so they planned two main eight lap runs.
Timo's programme focused on in-depth aero data collection, also for next year's car.
Charles Pic returned to the cockpit for the FP2 session, when the team reverted to the more typical set-up work, involving low fuel qualifying runs and long run tyre evaluation.
Timo Glock: "A typical Friday really, although in FP1 I ran some developments for next year. There were a lot of sensors on the car, so while the work was good, the running was a little less straightforward. In FP2 I had some trouble with traffic on the Soft option tyre run; every time, I caught up to Petrov in the last sector which lost me time. We also tried some different set-up options and we have to look at the information we gathered to ensure we have the right one for the rest of the weekend."
Charles Pic: "It was great to be back in the car at Yas Marina this afternoon. It's a circuit I like very much and I hope we are able to continue the positive work of India. For the early part of the FP2 session I got up to speed with the track - quite quickly as well - and prepared for qualifying and the race, adjusting to the changing light conditions. We are not where we would like to be yet, so I hope to make a step forward for tomorrow."
Max Chilton: "My FP1 session went just as well as I could have hoped for and my thanks again to the Marussia F1 Team for making this possible. I haven't stopped smiling all day. I have been looking forward to this opportunity for a few weeks now, but when the moment came - with all the pressure - I admit that I was a little nervous. I wanted everything to go well and to have as much track time as possible. In the end, due to the tyre life situation, we built up to two longer runs of eight laps each, where I was able to work on some pretty demanding testing items, procedures and systems. On the first run I was very happy to improve immediately - and keep improving. I was hoping to do that again on the second run but unfortunately I was blocked by traffic from a HRT car. There was definitely more to come though and that is the only small frustration in an otherwise memorable day. The team were very supportive and thanks to my engineering team and car crew today, who made me feel right at home."
John Booth, Team Principal: "A reasonable start to our race weekend here in Abu Dhabi, with three drivers contributing to the overall free practice programme. A word about Max to begin with, as he was making his race weekend running debut. We already had a significant level of confidence in his ability, as we tested him in the summer, but he put in an exemplary performance this morning. We were happy for him as he's come a long way this year. We were also a little relieved as we wanted him to get a good clean session and everything went very smoothly for him in the end. He coped with all the procedures well and although he was capable of more in terms of overall lap time on that second run, the potential is clearly there.
"Timo's morning session was much more focused towards 2013 development however this afternoon with his engineers he has tried some quite different set-ups in order to try and correct some of the problems he has had in the last few races. We will need to study these overnight and decide on which direction to go in. Charles got up to speed quickly in FP2 and has spent the session mostly focusing on preparing himself for qualifying and race, which will be run at this same later time of day. We are perhaps not as well placed in the timesheet as we would like, in terms of the gap to the cars ahead and behind, however I'm sure we can make some progress overnight and perhaps improve our position for tomorrow."
Check out our Friday gallery, here.