The Marussia F1 Team ended the opening race of the second half of the season with Max Chilton in 16th position and Jules Bianchi 18th, following a race of mixed fortunes.
Jules lined up on the grid in 16th place for today's 44 lap Belgian Grand Prix after a fantastic qualifying performance yesterday. He got a great start before Grosjean hit him from behind in Turn 1, puncturing his right-rear tyre and necessitating a pit stop after the opening lap. Conversely, Max started in P19 but drove a solid race, gradually reeling in Ericsson before eventually displacing him on lap 42.
Following his collision, the Team switched Jules to a one-stop strategy and in a display of fine tyre management, he made his first stint on the soft tyre last for 22 laps, in a bid to regain lost time and get back in touch with the cars ahead. He completed a second stint on the Medium tyre before retiring due to a suspected gearbox issue. Max raced to a two-stop Soft-Medium-Soft strategy.
Max Chilton: "It's great to end the weekend on a positive with 16th place, having gained three positions and finished ahead of the Caterham. We've improved the car since Hungary and we are in a good place versus the teams around us, so this has enabled us to fight this weekend. That what is required now, to try to hold onto 9th place in the Constructors' Championship. I'm pleased with how the race panned out, especially taking Ericsson right at the end."
Jules Bianchi: "There is not much to say beyond this was a race that was not meant to be. For sure it is disappointing after a really positive day yesterday, but with the puncture and the retirement, both were problems that were out of my hands. I'm pretty pleased with my race, considering. It was a bit lonely, but I was happy with the way I managed to close the gap and manage the tyres well at the same time, which are all signs of how the race might otherwise have played out for me. It's a shame that I was unable to take the flag due to a gearbox problem, but I can't be too disappointed and we'll look to Monza now as I think the package is stronger."
John Booth, Team Principal: "Not the result we were hoping for today, however, in the overall scheme of things, it is still a positive one. Max's race got off to a reasonable start, although we were unable to make the first undercut to Ericsson due to stopping on the same lap. We knew our best chance was to revise the strategy and complete a longer middle stint on the prime, to allow Max to attack towards the end of the race on fresher soft tyres, which he was able to do on the second to last lap of the race. With Jules, his day was pretty much over at the exit of Turn 1. With the puncture, he lost in excess of 50 seconds, however he did not give up the fight and did a fantastic long first stint on the option tyre, cutting this gap significantly and for much of that stint running the same pace as the Saubers. In the end, the effectively one-stop strategy designed to protect from any Safety Cars didn't quite pay off and that, combined with the blue flags you see when you drop that far back, meant that he was unable to make any progress forwards. Overall, some positives to take away, in terms of the pace and improved balance that we've seen on the car this weekend. Everyone is looking forward to moving on to Monza and dealing with the challenges of another fantastic and historic circuit."
Claudio Albertini, Head of Customer Teams Power Unit Operations, Scuderia Ferrari: "The race started badly - a puncture for Jules - but ended with a great feeling, thanks to the last-gasp overtaking move by Max on Ericsson, which has allowed the team to end one more Grand Prix in front of one of our main rivals. It really was a shame that Jules' race, having yesterday been the great protagonist in qualifying once again with the third Q2 contention in the last four races, was so heavily influenced by what happened in the collision with Grosjean after the start. The pace that he had, especially in the first half of the race when he did not have to deal with the blue flags, was very competitive and would have allowed him to do battle with Sauber. At the end, some parameters related to the operation of the gearbox were not the norm and therefore, as a precaution, we asked the team to call him in the garage some laps before the chequered flag. Max fought for almost the entire race with Ericsson and his tenacity was rewarded in the last few laps, proving that you should always believe it, until the end."
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