After making their debut in the 2010 season under the guise of Virgin Racing, the Marussia Racing team finally secured their first points in Formula 1. Jules Bianchi drove a superb race to finish eighth on the road, but was classified ninth after a five-second penalty was applied post-race. Max Chilton continued his 100% finishing record in Formula 1 in 14th.
In the closest thing to a home race for Bianchi, he was initially on the backfoot after taking a grid-drop penalty for a gearbox change that left him 21st on the grid. He made a good start to be 16th at the end of the first lap, but was soon handed a five-second penalty after being deemed to be out of position on the grid, having moved up on the grid in error after Pastor Maldonado was unable to start the race in his Lotus.
He would take the penalty in his pit-stop, however the pit-stop was during a safety car period, and the stewards deemed that this was not allowed, and gave him another five-second penalty. With Bianchi not returning to the pits, he would have that five seconds added to his race time, and while running in tenth, it looked likely the Frenchman and his team would miss out on points with Romain Grosjean in the second Lotus less than five seconds behind in eleventh.
However, fate was on Marussia’s side in Monaco, when Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen tangled with the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen at the hairpin, which elevated Bianchi into eighth, which became ninth with Grosjean being classifield ahead of him, but it was the Frenchman’s first points in F1 and Marussia’s first top ten finish also.
“Wow, what a race and what a result for the whole Team,” said a delighted Bianchi. “I am just incredibly happy, but first of all I have to pay credit to everyone at the Marussia F1 Team for making this possible. Nobody knows just how much work and determination goes into our races, so today I am thrilled that I have helped them to achieve their long-held target of our first points. To achieve them together makes me very proud.
“My thanks to everyone here in Monaco, the rest of the Team in Banbury and also to our powertrain partners, Scuderia Ferrari, because together we have all made great progress, particularly since the Barcelona Test. This gave us the confidence to push and we certainly did that here this weekend.
“It was not an easy race; there were some enjoyable highs along the way, but also a couple of concerning moments too. What matters at the end is that we got there and we can savour the highlights for a long time to come. I would also like to thank the Ferrari Driver Academy, who support me every step of my career.”
Team-mate Chilton had a less impressive race, finishing 14th and last. He also received the same penalty as Bianchi for being out of position on the grid, and then collided with Raikkonen during the second safety-car period while trying to un-lap himself at Mirabeau. Chilton received a reprimand from the stewards for the incident, but the Briton was happy the team had finally scored points in F1.
“I am very proud to be a part of something so special today,” said Chilton. “For a small team to have such a result is a huge boost for the future. Obviously, I have mixed emotions, as everything that could have gone wrong for me today did. But that is racing and I know I will have my chance one day to get some points for the Team. Well done to everyone and now I am really motivated heading into Montreal.”
Team Principle John Booth was naturally overjoyed with the result, which he felt was the hard work of the whole team right from day 1 in F1. He can see the team is on an upward swing, and feels they can be competing with the midfield runners on a more regular basis with their improved car.
“Naturally we are overjoyed at today’s result and it is a fantastic reward for all the hard work and determination, not just this year, but over the past four and a bit seasons,” said Booth. “My congratulations to the team here in Monaco, back at base in Banbury and our much newer colleagues at Scuderia Ferrari. Our powertrain partnership is young, but we saw the potential right from the start of the relationship and we are now really starting to see the results of a true integration.
“A lot of this weekend’s clear step stems from the progress we made at the recent Barcelona Test. We were cautiously optimistic about our performance increment, but we really needed to see it translate into a good race here in Monaco before we could feel too confident. We are only a young team, but we have every reason to believe in ourselves and a positive future.
“Clearly, in today’s race, we benefited from some attrition but, throughout, we were running at a pace that allowed us to stay in position with the cars around us. It is clear that we are now able to race with the back of the midfield pack. The penalty situation was a cause for concern and the way in which we served this with Jules was the product of some unusual circumstances, but we understand and accept the decisions. Thankfully, the second penalty was not the determining factor that it could have been. A tough day for Max; today simply didn’t go his way, but we are pleased for him that his finishing record continues.”