The Marussia F1 Team got the European phase of its season off to a positive start today, when the Team fielded its latest round of car updates, aimed at further improving the performance of the MR03.
Jules Bianchi's MR03-01 chassis was the first beneficiary of the latest aerodynamic developments, in order for the Team to complete back to back evaluations with Max Chilton's car, which carried the prior aero specification. The changes to Jules' chassis were centred on the nose area and were comprised of some obvious and some more subtle components. In the end, after a positive FP1 with the aero parts on Jules' car, the decision was taken to apply the upgrade across both cars for FP2.
Both drivers used the latest round of mechanical developments, primarily new front suspension, throughout the day, and these are designed to help benefit aerodynamic performance.
The opening free practice session ran smoothly, allowing for plenty of important mileage and data gathering. This afternoon, Max experienced a more frustrating session, due to a X problem, which took some time to identify and resolve before he was able to start work on the programme.
Jules Bianchi: "I think we have shown that we have made a good initial step with our updates today. It is never the case that you get everything from them immediately, so there is still plenty of work to do to understand how well they are working and where we can improve. With Max running the previous specification today we will have some interesting information to look through this evening. In simple terms we are closer to the cars ahead and keeping the Caterhams behind us, which is good."
Max Chilton: "It hasn't been an entirely straightforward day for me today and that can be frustrating when we have so many important boxes to tick. The primary focus today was achieving a good comparison between the two different aero specifications. We made good progress this morning so I was able to make use of the developments myself this afternoon. We lost a bit of time early in FP2 because of an engine problem and the afternoon was a little bit stop-start generally. I'm looking forward to evaluating what the new developments can bring."
John Booth, Team Principal: "FP1 was a very productive session for the Team, with both cars completing their programme as intended. With Jules we saw that the aero upgrades were working well and we also took the opportunity to reoptimise the set-up of the car to work with these developments and also some mechanical changes we have brought to this race. With Max, he didn't have the benefit of the upgrade in FP1, however we were still able to carry out some tests to aid aero correlation on this package which will be very useful data going forwards. In FP2 we felt confident that we had enough data to apply the upgrades across both cars, which was a little earlier than planned. FP2 was not as kind to us and we did suffer some issues on both cars. It seems also that the track conditions had changed significantly and the balance shift this caused forced us to go back on some of the set-up work we had completed. In the end, Jules completed the majority of his programme and was happy with the car in race trim. We stopped a little earlier than planned on the option long run, however we have still generated good data for us to examine tonight. With Max, I'm afraid he had a very stop-start session, with the Team and Ferrari working hard to diagnose some electrical issues which were affecting engine performance. He also unfortunately ran wide over a kerb and we lost some parts from the rear wing on his push lap. In the end, Max's session was curtailed by a mistake at T4, which saw him run wide. Overall a positive day in terms our upgrades behaving as planned and also to see that the performance relative to our nearest competitors does seem to have improved. However, we will remain cautious until Qualifying and the Race to see where we really are in the pecking order."
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