Roberto Merhi brought out the only red flag during practice for the Monaco Grand Prix on Thursday when the Manor F1 Team driver struck the barriers exiting the tunnel during the second session.
Despite this misdemeanour, Merhi had his most competitive in comparison to his team-mate Will Stevens so far, getting within two-tenths of a second in first practice before beating the Briton in the second. He was naturally disappointed to end up in the barriers after losing control under braking.
“I had a really good start to the day this morning and was quite happy with the car,” insisted Merhi. “I love racing here and I think the combination showed in possibly my best session of the season so far.
“Early in this afternoon’s session I lost the car under braking out of the tunnel, where it was quite slippery. It’s a shame but as things turned out, the rain meant that we would not have been able to achieve any meaningful running, so I’m looking forward to picking up where we left off on Saturday.”
Team-mate Stevens ended nineteenth in both sessions, and believed it was a good start to the weekend for the Manor team, who are racing here for the first time since the team secured their first ever Formula 1 points with Jules Bianchi twelve months ago.
“Not a bad start to our weekend here in Monaco,” insisted Stevens. “The day began reasonably well this morning but this afternoon’s rain hampered everybody’s progress.
“There is plenty of room for improvement with the car set-up and then I think the day has reminded everyone that a lot can happen here, which in turn creates opportunities, so we’ll be ready to take advantage of whatever surprises spring our way.”
Team Principal John Booth is thankful for the additional day to repair Merhi’s damaged car, with the third free practice session not scheduled until Saturday morning, but he feels the team are continuing to make significant progress with what is effectively an updated 2014 Marussia.
“This was always destined to be a difficult day due to the poor weather forecast,” said Booth. “This morning we were making good progress, with both drivers running well.
“This afternoon, track time was significantly compromised due to the rain and our progress was further hampered when Roberto lost control under braking on the exit of the tunnel, causing quite a bit of damage to the front of the car.
“Fortunately we have an extra day tomorrow to prepare for FP3 and qualifying.”