The first free practice sessions for Round 1 of the 2014 FIA Formula 1 World Championship revealed the full extent of the challenge facing the teams in Melbourne, as the impact of the dramatic new regulation changes is laid bare in a race weekend context.
Along with the rest of the teams, the Marussia F1 Team had worked late into the previous evening to be as ready as possible for a day that was likely to prove testing, in every sense.
The Team had a detailed programme of race related items ready to tick off over the course of the two sessions. In FP1, they experienced a number of software issues, which compromised running while they were ironed out of the system.
The second session ran far more smoothly and the drivers and engineers were able to develop some consistency and, aside from a brief exploration in low fuel trim, focus on longer runs and the operational procedures that need to be honed for the rest of the weekend. Towards the end of FP2 these included some full crew live pit stop practice simulations.
Jules Bianchi ran development parts today, including front wing, brake drum and floor components. The data gathered from his runs will be evaluated and this will determine whether they can be carried forward to both cars with effect from Saturday.
Jules ended the day in 17th position with a best lap of 1:33.486, while Max Chilton achieved a time of 1:34.757 and was 19th.
Jules Bianchi: "First of all, it's great to be back racing and at the place where it all began 12 months ago. Things are quite different this time around though and we expected quite a difficult day today. FP1 was indeed quite challenging as we worked to resolve some software problems, but this afternoon was a much better story and we were able to start digging a bit deeper in terms of race preparation and testing the reliability of the car, the outcome of which was quite promising. We also saw some encouraging signs from the low fuel simulation that we completed. There is a lot of work to do to try to understand the progress and also to evaluate the new developments we have for this weekend. Not a bad start and I'm quite happy."
Max Chilton: "The first two sessions have been a little like night and day in that we've had a really positive FP2 compared to the issues we experienced earlier. The second session was not entirely trouble free and we had to make some adjustments to get the car to my liking, but at least we got a good rhythm going and were able to put some proper laps on the car, which we really needed for evaluation. We are still just scratching the surface and there is a lot we can do to improve the car for here and the forthcoming races, but it's a car I feel confident with and that we can develop, so I'm feeling positive."
John Booth, Team Principal: "While Free Practice 1 was a little challenging - for everyone in the pit lane it seems - we are pleased with the progress we have made through the course of what we knew would be a fairly tough first day of race weekend running under the new regulations. I don't think we can draw too many conclusions from today, particularly in terms of who is where, and right now we are focusing on our own weekend and what we ourselves need to do to have a good race on Sunday. Having said that, there are some positive signs with the car in low and high fuel specification. We very much regard the data from FP2 as a solid baseline and, although there is much work to do to enhance the performance of the package, the good thing is that the car seems well balanced and we have a good platform to work with overnight."
Check out our Friday gallery, here.