Jules Bianchi has admitted that he is eagerly anticipating the start of F1's European swing as he attempts to keep Marussia ahead of Caterham.
The Frenchman impressed onlookers over the opening few rounds as he defied his rookie status to lead the 'division three' battle and suggested that Marussia could threaten the midfield, but is well aware that Caterham is due to bring a development package to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix that could tip the balance of power in Leafield's direction.
Marussia, like the majority of teams on the grid, will also be bringing an upgrade to the Circuit of Catalunya, and Bianchi is hopeful that, allied to the drip-fed developments of the opening four races, it will allow him to keep his nose in front.
“Although my first four races have been quite positive - and a nice adventure for me personally - as a driver in my debut season it is good to be heading into the start of the European season,” he conceded, “The tracks are very familiar to me from previous formulae and that just provides a further confidence with interpreting the information we collect and how we roll that back into performance.
“The team have spent a lot of time analysing our progress so it will be good to verify our findings with the package so far – and, of course, to explore our new developments for Spain. I'm looking forward to getting busy in the car again.”
The start of life in F1 has been a little tougher for rookie team-mate Max Chilton, but the Briton showed signs of improvement last time out, all but matching Bianchi for pace in Bahrain, and he too is looking forward to the familiarity of the Circuit de Catalunya, which is widely used for pre-season testing, as well as hosting races for the GP2 Series from which he graduated over the winter.
“It will be great to get back down to business in Spain, where there will be a lot to focus our attentions on,” Chilton commented, “We've learned a lot in the first four races - and quite a lot since, with the technical team having been hard at it in the break. What we bring to the Circuit de Catalunya is the product of four races of evaluation coupled with the next step in our ongoing development path, so it will be interesting to see how we can progress from Bahrain.
“On a personal level, this is a track I enjoy and have raced at plenty of times, and that will also be useful as we work through a busy evaluation programme on Friday in particular. I'm looking forward to it.”
Chilton will only get a single 90-minute session on the opening day of the Barcelona, event, however, having been confirmed as the driver stepping down to make way for reserve Rodolfo Gonzalez to get a second outing of the season. Bianchi stepped aside for the Venezuelan in Bahrain last month.