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Belgian Grand Prix: Marussia, Caterham celebrate qualifying success

Even knowing that rain was likely to play a major factor in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, it was surely beyond the wildest dreams of Marussia and Caterham that they would get three cars through to Q2.
The sight of both Marussia drivers and both Caterham drivers ending their participation in qualifying at the end of the first 20 minute session is part of the unbreakable lore of today's F1. To see it overturned quite so emphatically as it was in Belgium on Saturday is really quite disorientating - even for those at the heart of the two team's successes at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday.

“What a fantastic day!" said Caterham's Giedo van der Garde, who rebounded from an accident in Friday practice to end Q1 not only through to the next round of qualifying, but in third place in the times after the chequered flag came out.

Van der Garde's achievement was thanks to a daring gamble to switch to medium compound slick tyres while everyone else was playing safe on intermediates in the wet but drying conditions in the latter half of Q1 following a heavy downpour. At first it seemed as though the risky strategy wouldn't pay off when van der Garde slithered off at Les Combes on his first flying lap attempt, but then conditions moved in his favour and he shot up the times.

"It was a pretty brave call to be the first to go out on slicks and for the first lap it looked like it might not pay off, but then on the final lap of Q1 I had it all hooked up just right and finished the session the highest we've ever been in Q1," said the Dutch driver. "I have to say I didn't really believe it when my engineer Juan told me where we were – I was just at the top of Eau Rouge on the cool down lap and he said I was in P3! That was such a good feeling, for me, the team and everyone who's supported me."

The track stayed dry for Q2 meaning that a similar upset was never on the cards, but van der Garde still had his work cut out to ensure that he qualified ahead of both Marussias who had progressed to Q2 via a similar gambit.

"In Q2 we knew that if it stayed dry we'd be aiming for 14th and we went out on a set of mediums knowing we had to keep pushing as the track got better and better," he said. "I think there was maybe a little more laptime if we'd maybe started the run a bit later, but, realistically, not enough to go into Q3 so finishing 14th, over 0.5 seconds clear of our nearest rival was the target and we achieved it by good work from everyone.

"I'm so pleased for the whole team that we made our second appearance of the year in Q2, that we finished clear of the Marussias and start the race from 14th," he summed up.

Despite not being able to carry the fight to van der Garde in Q2, the Marussia pair of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton were equally ecstatic about their qualifying session and their grid positions of 15th and 16th respectively.

“Today is a fantastic result for the team, who were so happy to be back in Q2," said Bianchi. "This was a nice feeling for everybody, including myself, as this was also the first Q2 of my F1 career.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
23.08.2013- Free Practice 2, Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham F1 Team CT03
23.08.2013- Free Practice 1, Max Chilton (GBR), Marussia F1 Team MR02
23.08.2013- Free Practice 2, Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR02
23.08.2013- Free Practice 1, Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR02 and Max Chilton (GBR), Marussia F1 Team MR02
23.08.2013- Free Practice 2, Giedo Van der Garde (NED), Caterham F1 Team CT03
23.08.2013- Free Practice 1, Giedo Van der Garde (NED), Caterham F1 Team CT03
Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, Sauber, F1 [Credit: Honda Racing]
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August 24, 2013 5:41 PM

A great result for vdG after he managed the same feat in Monaco, but this must have been even sweeter for a 'home crowd' to be 3rd in Q1 and finish the job by outqualifying the Marussias in Q2...Sadly the pace difference with the other teams is such that in straightforward sessions there's nothing they can do. Also a good performance by Bianchi and Chilton...eventhought the latter of course was still outclassed by Bianchi who was 11th in Q1 but at least he made the cut for Q2. Because it's a track where overtaking isn't that difficult especially with KERS and DRS these guys are probably dicing for the last 4 positions again tomorrow but highlights like these show the better teams that there is some promise there and they might be able to do something with a better car.

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