Jules Bianchi says that he was content with his return to the cockpit after being forced out of day of the German Grand Prix by illness, but reckons there is more to come from him on race day.
Having already had to sit out the opening practice session on Friday in favour of reserve driver Rodolfo Gonzalez, Bianchi then managed only a handful of laps in FP2 before the effects of a stomach bug took effect and cast doubt on his participation in the rest of the weekend.
Fortunately, the period of rest seemed to do the trick for the Frenchman, who was back behind the wheel in time for third practice on Saturday morning, and then put his Marussia MR02 into 20th spot on the grid despite his lack of track time. The rookie had been headed for 19th spot, which would have equalled uncle Lucien's best qualifying position at the old Nurburgring, but was pipped by Caterham's Charles Pic in the closing seconds of Q1.
“This morning, I was feeling much better than yesterday, but not quite 100 per cent, so I think another night's rest will help again,” Bianchi suggested, “It was good to get back in the car this morning and start the process of getting up to speed, which I think has gone quite well. It took some time to balance the car to our liking but we're in a good place for tomorrow and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can achieve in terms of race pace. The key will be to get ahead of Charles as soon as possible - and keep it that way.”
For team principal John Booth, Bianchi's return was an important step for the team, which appears poised to mix it with Caterham in Sunday's race.
“We were all pleased to see Jules looking fit and well this morning and, whilst he is still not 100 per cent, he made good progress through FP3 this morning,” the Briton confirmed, “We started him on a race run in order to give him race experience on the new rear tyres we have this weekend, but that did mean he had to contend with a big leap in pace to the low fuel option run at the end of FP3.
“His qualifying runs were very measured and he can be very pleased with his result, as can the rest of the team, who have been analysing our performance in Silverstone closely to determine a better set-up for here. This has enabled us to catch back up to not only our direct competitors but also the rest of the field.”
Fellow rookie Max Chilton will bring up the rear of the grid when it lines up for round nine of the 2013 season, feeling that he was unable to get the most from his car.
“I was obviously hoping for more today as [Giedo] van der Garde has been within reach all weekend, but I seemed to struggle a little more in qualifying and, for some reason, we did not get the best from the car,” the Briton sighed, “[That] is encouraging to some extent, because it means we can depend on our stronger race pace. We'll have a good look at the data this evening and do everything we can to ensure a good fight with the Caterhams tomorrow.”
“Max's early pace on the medium tyre this morning was where we expected but, on the soft option tyres, he hasn't seen the gain expected,” Booth revealed, “I am sure that he will be working hard with his engineers overnight to have the best possible race tomorrow.
“Overall, it was a pleasing day and we look forward to the race, which does look like it could throw up some interesting strategy. That will be our focus overnight.”