The Marussia F1 Team's Charles Pic stormed to his best qualifying result of the season in Abu Dhabi today - P20 - having been pipped from P19 in the dying seconds of Q1 by just 0.1s. It was a measure not only of how far he has come in his rookie season, but just how quickly the Team is hunting down its direct competitor and taking the fight to them in qualifying as well as the race.
Timo Glock had a more difficult end to an otherwise promising Q1 as he too was jockeying for position with the team ahead in the early part of the session. On his final lap he was battling for grip and ended up losing his earlier advantage over Vitaly Petrov.
Charles completed two runs of 5 laps on the Pirelli PZero Yellow Soft tyre. Timo was on course to do the same but abandoned his final lap after experiencing the grip problem in the first two sectors.
Charles Pic: "I am really very happy with my qualifying session today. I had a very good car; the balance was almost perfect. I lost a little bit of time in the second sector of my quick lap and that is how Kovalainen was able to get ahead. I have to be happy with the lap though as it represents my best qualifying result of the season, so a great result for me and the Team. I have to say thanks to my car crew because they worked very late last night, but I hope today was some reward for their efforts. I am now looking forward to the race tomorrow; the start should be quite interesting with the cars around me. I also hope to be able to make the same progress as we did in India and keep improving through the whole race. The objective is again to stay in touch with the Caterhams."
Timo Glock: "Not a bad day overall but a disappointing end when it counted unfortunately. This morning, at the start of FP3, we struggled a little, but at the end we arrived at a good set-up. We carried this through to qualifying and seemed to have good momentum all the way through until the last, most important, lap when his car had no grip. Until then we were fighting hard with the Caterhams, so it's a little disappointing. So now we will have to go through the usual analysis tonight and see what we can find for tomorrow."
John Booth, Team Principal: "Today was another important step towards achieving our goals for this season and a fantastic achievement for Charles, which underlines his impressive development this season. His lap time represents the smallest gap we have had to Caterham in qualifying so far, at just 0.1s. Today's result is a credit to the excellent teamwork we have demonstrated here in Abu Dhabi, as the weekend has been less than straightforward - for the mechanics in particular. Today is an excellent reward for all their efforts. As for Timo, we have seen many times that the tyres are extremely sensitive and this evening our main focus will be to understand the sudden lack of grip he encountered on his final lap. He had some good high fuel runs in FP2, so I'm sure he will take heart in the fact that he should be able to make good progress tomorrow. With both Charles and Timo lining up alongside our direct competitors on the grid, this will be our best chance of potentially out-racing at least one of them, given that we have already shown in recent weeks that our race pace is significantly better than our qualifying pace. We're looking forward to it!"
Check out our Qualifying gallery, here.