The Marussia F1 team will look to build on its impressive start to the 2013 season by bringing a raft of new parts to its MR02 at this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.
Although the team has yet to score points, Jules Bianchi, in particular, has shown well against the midfield runners, and has finished ahead of the team's main rival Caterham in both the Australian and Malaysian rounds. Sensing that it is making real progress in its fourth season in the top flight, Marussia will continue to bring developments to its car, although team principal John Booth admits that there is more to come in a couple of races' time.
“The past couple of weeks have provided a good break for the race team after a fairly intensive period through pre-season testing and the opening two long-haul races but, after such a positive start to the season, I think we are all keen to get back to the racing,” he admitted.
“The cars were freighted directly to China so, while we would not call the upgrades we have for this race comprehensive, they are still significant. We will be running some new suspension parts that we proved out in testing but delayed until we had some further race distance experience with the MR02. We also have some new front and rear brake ducts.
“The bigger push will come for Europe but, for now, it's good to be bringing new incremental updates to the car to maintain our positive trajectory.”
Both Bianchi and fellow rookie Max Chilton have spent some time during the break in the simulator and the Frenchman believes both are feeling much better prepared for the next phase of the season.
Neither has raced at the Shanghai International Circuit before, but Bianchi will at least start the weekend with eight laps of practice under his belt having driven in the opening session for Force India last season.
“I'm really looking forward to heading to China and getting back to the racing,” he conceded, echoing the general feeling within the Banbury camp, “Things have started out so well that it was almost a shame to have to stop for a few weeks but, for the team, it was very important to have time to look at what we have achieved and how to continue moving forward.”
The 2012 World Series by Renault runner-up has posted finishes of 15th and 13th from his first two grands prix, but has caught the eye with his pace in both races, with a fastest lap in Melbourne all but matching that of world champion Sebastian Vettel.
“I was able to reflect on what has been a bit of a whirlwind, but a very positive start to my first season of F1 nonetheless,” Bianchi continued, “I am quite happy with the progress so far, but it's all about maintaining the momentum now, so it is good to know that we head into the next race with some new developments which should carry us forward again.
“The target for this race is to keep closing on the guys ahead and be challenging them consistently, lap for lap. I have a little experience of the Shanghai International Circuit having completed eight laps there in free practice last year, plus I spent some time on the simulator in the break. I haven't seen Shanghai yet though, so maybe this will be a first!”