The Marussia F1 Team's love affair with the chequered flag continued into the new season today when Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi achieved the Team's first two-car finish in the season-opening 2014 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
57 laps earlier, the result had not looked quite so promising, as both drivers suffered car-stopping problems before the start lights were even illuminated. Max experienced an engine kill at the start of the formation lap whilst conducting normal start procedures. The car was stuck in gear and he had to be pushed back to the garage, where the Team were able to reset the car, resolve the issue and get Max in a position where he could start the race from the pit lane, which was an impressive turnaround. He ended the race in 14th position.
Meanwhile, Jules had completed the formation lap but on returning to the grid he experienced a separate engine kill. He too was pushed back to the pits but it was six laps into the race before he finally left the garage, ground he was never going to be able to make up. Although Jules finished the race, he was unclassified.
Max Chilton: "Today's race was by no means perfect but we have started the season with a two-car finish, and on my side a 14th place as well, so we have to be pleased with that. The start was obviously extremely concerning. I was on the grid preparing for the formation lap with the usual procedures and suddenly everything just cut out. At that point I was worried that my race was already over, but the Team did a fantastic job to push me off the grid and back to the garage where they reset the car and I was able to start the race from the pit lane. From that point on I knew we had an important job to do to get the car home, but at the same time do the hard work to we needed to be able to evaluate the car over a race distance. It was quite pleasing to be able to catch Ericsson in the process. We've learned an awful lot today that will stand us in good stead as we prepare for the next race in Malaysia and also to start developing the car for the longer term. After a tough time in testing when we did not achieve all the mileage we had hoped for, it's good to take home a 14th place finish from the first race of the season. It's a nice reward for all the hard work across the whole Team."
Jules Bianchi: "The problem at the start was really quite worrying and I did not expect to be able to race, but the Team got me to the garage and fought hard to get me back on track. I was six laps down when I did rejoin and of course I was never going to recover from that, but that was not the point. Being in the race - and finishing it - enabled us to gather the maximum amount of information and test various strategies for maximising the power unit. In many ways it was more like a test than a race for me, which was far from ideal, but as is the case in testing, the mileage was important and this will be crucial for the engineers to start moving us forward. Hopefully I will be able to benefit from this next time around. I am pleased that we have some reward for all the hard work and we look forward to better things in Malaysia."
John Booth, Team Principal: "It was a heart-stopping start to our race, to say the least, but the way we recovered from the issues we experienced with both cars was very pleasing and ultimately we achieved our objective of a two-car finish, albeit Jules missed the first six laps. Our performance did fall shy of our overall target, due to the specific problems we encountered and, more generally, being a little on the back foot. Having said that, this race was by no means a reflection of our potential and we are encouraged by the feedback from both drivers, which points to very good signs for our development. We seem to have a car that is reliable for the race and as a result we leave Melbourne with a mountain of data for the engineers to pore over in order to begin the work of fully optimising our package. What this means is that from Malaysia we can start to focus a little more on extracting more performance from the car. It has been a tough journey to get to this point and today is actually a big achievement for the Team and our partnership with Scuderia Ferrari. We can feel proud and positive for the season ahead."
Claudio Albertini, Head of Customer Teams Power Unit Operations, Scuderia Ferrari: "On balance the race debut for the partnership between Scuderia Ferrari and Marussia F1 Team was positive. We were able to get both cars to the finish in the first race of the season, which is an important achievement, but above all we have a good starting point for further improvement. It's a shame that neither Max nor Jules managed to start from the grid; the handicap for Max has not substantially affected his final position, but the same cannot be said for Jules, who saw his race compromised even before the start. The data that we could collect this weekend and, in particular, this afternoon will be very useful to improve the contribution to the performance of the team going forward."
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