Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton ended the day in 16th and 18th positions respectively for the Marussia F1 Team, after the first two free practice sessions for Sunday's 44 lap Belgian Grand Prix.
This morning, the Team's new Reserve Driver Alexander Rossi made his FP1 debut and delivered a very creditable performance on his maiden outing in the MR03.
Jules Bianchi: "I'm pleased to finish P16 after a good start to the weekend. It's always nice to be racing here in Spa, and of course this track has special associations for me, so it's nice to get back down to the racing here and see positive signs for the days ahead. I am happy with where I finished the day, particularly with respect to the cars around me."
Max Chilton: "It has been good to get back in the car again and to focus on the weekend ahead. It was a positive afternoon session for me, picking up the programme from Alex, who ran this morning and did a good job. The car feels better with the changes we have made and I'm sure we can continue to improve the package into tomorrow and have a good race on Sunday, hopefully achieving a strong two-car finish for the Team."
Alexander Rossi: "The main point for me today is to reiterate my thanks to the Marussia F1 Team for the chance to drive the MR03 for the first time. Obviously it's disappointing not to race, but then I was not aware of the opportunity prior to coming here anyway, so it went away almost as quickly as it arrived. I'm a racing driver, so obviously opportunities to race are welcome, but equally I am part of this Team now and I'm here to do whatever is required of me, and that means taking the rough with the smooth. So switching to the positives, I really enjoyed my first free practice session. I felt very comfortable in the car and I'm pleased with my performance considering I have never driven the MR03 prior to today. I got up to speed quite quickly and although this is early days, I hope I have demonstrated to the Team what I can contribute. They seem pleased with my progress and feedback and I look forward to my next FP1 opportunity."
John Booth, Team Principal: "We have enjoyed a positive first day back on track after the summer break. We brought some upgrades that we tested on the seven-post rig before the break and these represent the first reoptimisation of the car without the linked suspension system. These developments reflect a lot of hard work by our Vehicle Performance Group back at the factory and it is very pleasing to see that effort rewarded by a clear improvement in the car. Both drivers are happy with the balance, particularly Jules, and the timesheets clearly demonstrate our performance step.
"All credit to Alexander, who has conducted himself really well today, on and off track. I have been following Alexander since his early junior formula days and I'm proud to have him in our car and on our team. Alexander acquitted himself incredibly well to the MR03 and its systems. Despite a few system glitches that held back his overall lap time, he had a very good practice session and helped the team prepare for FP2. I have huge respect for him and he's done a tremendous job. It's not the first time he's been in a Formula 1 car and it certainly won't be his last. That I am sure."
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