The Marussia F1 team saw both Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton attempt a one-stop strategies that paid off at the Austrian Grand Prix as both saw off the challenge of their respective Caterham-Renault drivers, with the Frenchman beating Kamui Kobayashi and the Briton beating Marcus Ericsson at the Red Bull Ring.
At the end of the race, Bianchi was closing on the Lotus of Romain Grosjean and could have challenged for fourteenth had the race been a few laps longer. He was disappointed not to be at the pace of the Sauber and Lotus teams all race long, but has hope the team can bring him into the midfield battle next time out at Silverstone.
“It was not an easy race trying to make our one-stop strategy work, but we did and I am pretty happy with how we have finished,” said Bianchi. “I got a good start and kept everyone behind me until it was not possible for me to keep pace with the Supersoft tyre Kobayashi was running to my Soft and he was able to get by.
“We just had to keep faith with the strategy though and run as long as possible on the prime, which, in the end was 40 laps. Everything worked out well because on the Supersoft I was able to catch him very quickly, overtake, and then pull away from him by some margin. Late in the race I was also closing the gap to Grosjean but unfortunately I ran out of time. Nonetheless, 15th is a good result and I am happy that we delivered a good Team performance today.
“It was a nice fight, just not the fight we had been hoping for, which was with the cars ahead. I hope we can find those extra tenths for our home race at Silverstone in two weeks’ time.”
Team-mate Chilton was able to get ahead of Ericsson and was closing on Kobayashi when the chequered flag fell. Like his team-mate, the Briton was disappointed not to be concentrating on the cars in front rather than the Caterhams behind.
“We had a very good strategy today which enabled me to keep Ericsson behind and in the latter stages of the race, close the gap to Kobayashi,” said Chilton. “I had a really good second stint but unfortunately we just ran out of laps as the gap came down to only 2s. Generally I’m pleased with 17th after starting at the back of the grid today.
“It has been a positive end to the weekend but we’ve grown used to being able to focus on the cars ahead, not behind, so we need to recover a bit of ground for the next race to get us back on track. The next round is our home race, for the Team and for me, so hopefully we’ll find a little bit more pace to get us back where we need to be.”
Team Principal John Booth was in agreement with his drivers as he hoped to be fighting with Sauber and Lotus rather than Caterham for position. He believed the one-stop strategy for both drivers was the best one for the team and was happy about the pace of Bianchi and Chilton at the end of the race as they chased down Grosjean and Kobayashi.
“We leave Austria with mixed feelings after the race today,” said Booth. “On the one hand, each car held off a Caterham. On the other hand, we didn’t quite have the pace when looking to the Sauber and Lotus cars in front.
“Both drivers held their nerve with our one-stop strategy; we had opted to start on the prime tyre in order to give us a clear first stint in terms of traffic. This paid off slightly better for Jules than Max, but obviously with Max starting from the back this was inevitable.
“In the last few laps, both cars got close to the cars immediately in front. With an extra lap, Jules could have had a good tussle with Grosjean and with the absence of a couple of blue flags for Max, he could have passed Kobayashi. We knew this track would be tough for our package, however both on the Marussia side and Scuderia Ferrari side we have worked to extract as much performance as we could. We hope this continues into Silverstone at what is maybe a slightly better circuit for our car.”