Rodolfo Gonzalez's first appearance in an F1 cockpit during a grand prix weekend was a short-lived affair as gearbox gremlins kept him in the garage for longer than he would have liked.
The Venezuelan, appointed as the Marussia team's official reserve for 2013, was due to complete the opening practice session at the Bahrain Grand Prix
in the car used to great effect by fellow rookie Jules Bianchi
in the opening three races of the season, but he managed only seven laps before being sidelined by a gearbox problem that proved impossible to resolve before the 90-minute session ended.
"Although my first experience of the MR02 was quite brief, it provided a good start for my FP1 programme at various races this year,” Gonzalez insisted, “With my programme, I had actually experienced and achieved quite a few different things before the problem with the gearbox. I felt comfortable with the car, but I could see that Max [Chilton] and Jules were going to have quite a challenging day with the heat and the track conditions. I'm looking forward to being able to make a wider contribution to the team's performance during a grand prix weekend and next time will be better for sure."
Fortunately, the break between sessions allowed the Marussia crew to repair the gearbox in time for Bianchi to take to the track in second practice, although the lack of track time showed as the Frenchman trailed team-mate Chilton on the final timesheets. Neither driver was able to find the perfect balance in the heat of the desert, but Bianchi remained confident of finding improvements in time for qualifying.
"It was not an easy task getting up to speed this afternoon,” he admitted, “Having watched and listened to the challenges Max and Rodolfo were experiencing this morning, it was clear that FP2 would not be straightforward for me either.
“The heat is playing a big part in the way the car has been performing but I think, for my part, we were limited by the time to improve on these issues in the space of an afternoon. Given this, I am not so unhappy with my time as I was making progress and I am sure that, overnight, we will find a good solution for tomorrow."
“Rodolfo did a good job getting used to the procedures required for the car [and] Max worked hard with his engineers to try and improve the balance of the car between the two sessions, [but], for Jules, it was very much about getting up to speed in a limited amount of time,” team principal John Booth confirmed, “However, there are areas he has identified for improvement overnight, and I'm sure we can look forward to better things tomorrow.
“We completed our programme and worked on ensuring that the systems of the MR02 can cope with the extreme temperatures we are going to experience this weekend. Whilst we are not particularly happy with the performance of the car today, at least it is clear that the problem is localised and we feel confident that we will be able to improve things overnight.”