Jules Bianchi has admitted that he wasn't expecting to find the Marussia team as competitive as he did in Australia, but knows that both he and the team can improve further.
The Frenchman had hoped to be a part of the Force India line-up this season, but was passed over in favour of Adrian Sutil and looked certain to spend another year in a reserve role at the Silverstone-based team. However, when Luiz Razia's sponsorship failed to materialise on time, Bianchi got the call to partner fellow rookie Max Chilton at Marussia, and has immediately cast himself as the team's number one.
He posted the eleventh-fastest lap of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, just a matter of hundredths off world champion Sebastian Vettel's best effort, and brought the MR02 home in 15th position, at the head of the 'division three' battle with Caterham.
“It was a really nice weekend for me in Australia, even if it was quite a late call for me because I didn't do all the pre-season testing,” he reflected as he geared up for round two in Malaysia, “I just tried to enjoy myself and see what we were able to do in the race – and obviously it went pretty well. We had a good start, everything was good, and we did a good result. But we know what we have to improve and we will try to do that for the next few races.”
Bianchi's performance has already led to suggestions that he deserves to find himself in a better car in the future – remember he remains a part of Ferrari's driver academy – but he is quick to praise the set-up at Marussia, which has produced its first windtunnel-led design this season.
“I was really surprised when I drove it for the first time,” he admitted, “My expectation was a lot lower than that. I was really happy when I drove it, [and] I think we can do good results.
“We know what we have to improve again, so we're just trying to do that, trying to improve the car and trying to improve myself as well, because I'm new in the team, new in F1. I want to show people what I am able to do, so I will try to do my best for all the other races.
“Obviously, it would have been better for me to have more testing, but my race was good and there's much more to come from my side, especially to set the car up well, because I don't know the car yet.
“I only did one-and-a-half days before the race, so I think it's still something I need to get used to and, for sure, I will have more performance after that. I think I'm already at a good level, as I trained a lot last year with Force India, and the year before with Ferrari, so I feel ready to race in F1. I still need to improve, but I'm already happy with [my level].”