Marcus Ericsson showed his best form of the season so far to finish seventeenth at the Japanese Grand Prix, two places ahead of his Caterham F1 team-mate Kamui Kobayashi, but the result will be mainly forgotten for the crash of Jules Bianchi at Suzuka.
Despite a spin behind the safety car in the initial couple of laps before the first red flag, Ericsson showed a good turn of speed on a track he knew well from winning the Japanese Formula 3 Championship back in 2009, and was running ahead of Bianchi, Kobayashi and Max Chilton when the red flags were shown for Bianchi’s serious crash at the Dunlop curve.
“It was a crazy one,” insisted Ericsson before the extent of Bianchi’s injuries were revealed. “Today’s weather made it a difficult race – the track was undriveable at the beginning behind the Safety Car, that’s why they red-flagged it. Unfortunately, I had a spin and I lost all my advantage from yesterday because of it, which was a big disappointment.
“But after that I think I drove a fantastic race, our pace was very strong and I just had to redo the job I did yesterday and overtake all the guys again, and that’s what I did. I overtook them one by one and we even had the pace to fight with the rivals ahead of us, so we should be really pleased with the speed and the pace we had today.
“Result wise, we should not be pleased because we want to be higher up and with the speed we had we could’ve achieved this today, but it’s definitely a step forward and something to build on in the upcoming races. Overall, we can be very happy!
“I hope Jules wasn’t badly injured in his accident, all thoughts are with him.”
When the Swede realised the condition of his rival, he apologised for appearing to be disrespectful on his Twitter account, and wished Bianchi a speedy recovery.
“I’m sorry if I sounded disrespectful,” said Ericsson. “[I] Didn’t know the serious condition Jules is in. All my thoughts with him. Everything else is secondary.”
Team-mate Kobayashi joined in the well-wishing of Bianchi, but was content to see Ericsson have such a strong race even though his own pace was not as good, and believes the team are continuing to improve race by race.
“First of all I’d like to say that I hope Jules is okay,” said Kobayashi. “Today’s race was a difficult one for me; overall I think I didn’t have enough pace. Unfortunately my home Grand Prix didn’t really work out as I would’ve liked it to, but today was okay and it was amazing to see all the fans in the grandstands even though it hasn’t stopped raining all day – they are just incredible and they gave me a big boost and I want to thank every one of them!
“The crazy weather made it a bit hard, but we managed to fight. Marcus also did a very good job. The team can be pleased with our overall performance, we are improving.”