We are up and running in Bahrain ready for Round 4 of the Formula 1 World Championship, taking place in the Kingdom this weekend within a week of the last race in China.
This race takes the sport to the third Hermann Tilke-designed circuit of the 2013 calendar - a challenge comprised not only of demanding circuit characteristics but also the intense heat, often gusty conditions out on track and the resulting fine layer of sand which contributes to a constantly evolving grip level.
This weekend we welcome our Reserve Driver Rodolfo Gonzalez to the MR02 for the first foray of his scheduled FP1 participation at several races this season. On this occasion he will take over the MR02-02 of Jules Bianchi, who will return to the cockpit for FP2.
Jules Bianchi, Driver #22
“I learned a lot during the course of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend. It was a challenging race and in many ways it felt like I crossed the line with a much more complete understanding of the MR02 and the tyres. Although it’s still early days, I am really comfortable with my understanding of the car, the direction we are heading in as a Team and where I can continue to develop personally. There’s been a nice pace to the season so far, so although we’ve had just a week before this race, I think it will allow us the chance to consolidate the progress we have made with the interim updates and then catch our breath again ready for what we will bring to Europe. So Bahrain marks the end of the long-haul phase at the start of the season and this is a track I am looking forward to. There are some tricky features and also the conditions make it even more challenging with the high temperatures. It can also be also be quite windy. I’ve had a bit of experience here in GP2 so it’s good to be back and I’m excited to see what we can achieve here.”
Max Chilton, Driver #23
“It’s good to be heading into Bahrain so soon after China. We ended the weekend there on a more positive note, so I think the short gap between races will be useful in helping us to carry through that momentum. I’ve raced at the Bahrain International Circuit a few times so I know it to be a great track with quite a few challenging elements to it. It’s one of those circuits that seems to be constantly changing through the weekend, so it will be important to get a positive start in Free Practice to provide a good baseline for us to read the rest of the sessions. The updates we brought to China were a good step, so hopefully we can feel more of the benefit of those this weekend. All in all, I’m quite comfortable that things are heading in the right direction now and I’m looking forward to picking up where we left off.”
Rodolfo Gonzalez, Reserve Driver
“I’m really happy with this opportunity to drive in my first FP1 session of the season. It will be a nice feeling to be back in a car – especially to drive a Formula 1 car again – and with my previous F1 experience I feel more than comfortable and ready. I love this circuit; it will be quite dusty in FP1 but it’s also good fun and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can achieve. I would like to thank the Team for their faith in me. They have made me feel so welcome and have bent over backwards to involve me in every aspect of the racing.”
John Booth, Team Principal, Marussia F1 Team
“A quick turnaround for the Team sees us up and running again in Bahrain this week and in good shape overall for the final long-haul race of the early part of the season. This track represents a different challenge from Shanghai but both drivers have raced here before in the junior formulae, so factors like the track conditions – the heat, the wind, the sand – are not a completely unknown quantity for them. From a team point of view we’ll need to work hard to achieve the right compromise of car set-up, to manage the grip level and cooling demands. The asphalt can also be quite abrasive here, so it will be interesting to see how the tyre story unfolds here through the weekend. We experienced a few frustrations in Shanghai which we are determined to iron out here so that we give ourselves the opportunity to properly showcase our developments and maintain a clearer picture of where we are in respect to the cars ahead. We are pleased to welcome our Reserve Driver Rodolfo Gonzalez to the car for his first FP1 session of the season. On this occasion he will take over from Jules for the morning but we will see him taking part in this session at several of the races this season and we will alternate between the two cars. We wish him well and look forward to getting our first opportunity to gauge his performance level in the MR02.”