After the highs of qualifying at Silverstone where Jules Bianchi achieved a career-best starting position for both team and driver, the British Grand Prix for the Marussia-Ferrari team was one of relative disappointment. Bianchi was unable to keep the faster, out-of-position cars behind him despite showing good defensive skills, while Max Chilton was left to rue entering the pit lane under the red flag period that result in a penalty that he never recovered from.
For Chilton, he had a lucky escape after Kimi Raikkonen’s first lap accident. When the Ferrari driver hit the wall on the Wellington Straight, the car lost a wheel, and it hit the Marussia’s front wing and wheel. He felt relieved that the tyre missed his helmet, but was disappointed that from then on in he was on the back foot.
“After yesterday’s qualifying performance we were hopeful that we could have a good race today and we certainly didn’t anticipate the course of events that we did encounter,” said Chilton. “That was a scary moment when I was hit by the flying tyre. I was very lucky in one respect but massively unlucky given the damage to my car. I came into the pits because I needed a new front wing and for the Team to take a look around the car, but of course by then the race had been red flagged.
“The Team did a good job to repair the car from the pit lane and from then it was a tough race, with me pushing as hard as I could. I was happy to overtake Kobayashi so that I could then work away at closing the gap to him to unlap myself. I’m pleased we got both cars to the finish at our home race. We were hoping for more but with the circumstances we had it’s a good result.”
Team-mate Bianchi made a place up to tenth before the red flag, but was unable to defend his position for too long. He feels the car is getting closer to the midfield pack in front of him, and is hoping the team can continue their excellent development of the car.
“From 10th place at the restart I had a very enjoyable opening stint after the restart,” said Bianchi. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold off the faster cars behind me but it was a good test of our pace as to how long I could keep them behind for and this was a fun part of the race for me.
“After that I just had to push as hard as I could to stay with the pack in case any opportunity arose. What we did see today is that all we need is just a few more tenths a lap to allow us to keep pace with the Lotus and Sauber cars, so we have to focus now on finding that extra time.”
Team Principal John Booth was disappointed with the penalty applied to Chilton for entering the pits, but laid no blame on the driver as he was only following instructions from the pit wall. He also praised Bianchi for his racecraft as he attempted to hold back the obviously quicker cars behind him.
“A very eventful first lap today and luckily the only damage as far as our team was concerned was damage to Max’s car rather than himself, so he was extremely lucky in this respect,” said Booth. “We called Max in soon after the incident due to the need to change his front wing and check his front suspension, which the wheel had hit. Later in the lap we received the red flag notification but due to a radio issue we weren’t able to get the message through to Max to go straight to the grid.
“Consequently we incurred a hefty penalty, not just that of the drive through but also going down a lap on the safety car restart. From this point Max did well to stay focused and try to catch the cars in front in order to put himself in a position of being able to take advantage of any safety car, should it enable him to unlap himself. His pace was good and overall, despite the disappointment of his finishing position, he has been pleased with the performance of the car in the race.
“Jules had a very good opening stint, battling hard with the cars behind. Some were clearly quicker than us but he showed good racecraft in keeping them behind. At the point at which they broke through, as Caterham were so far behind it was more about minimising the gap to the Sauber and Lotus cars in front. Unfortunately we weren’t quite quick enough so we turn our attentions now to the test this week. One day is devoted to Pirelli testing but we hope the day we will devote to set-up work will bring us some more performance ahead of Germany.”