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Marussia rues lack of forward progress at Monza
9 September 2013
On the plus side, Marussia's Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton both gained two positions in the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday and both cars made it to the finish albeit one lap off the leaders. But in reality, those gains in position were down to others retiring, and circulating for 52 of the 53 laps in 80 minutes was hardly the sort of performance the team had been hoping for.
"I was really pleased with my start as I got ahead of both Caterhams into the first corner," pointed out Bianchi. "Unfortunately our early pace was not sufficient to hold them off and they regained position by the end of the first lap.
"In the first stint we had started to make some good progress and were catching them, but after the pit stop the balance was not there and we struggled on the hard tyre, dropping back from them again," he added of what had been a frustratingly unproductive day for the team.
With the Caterhams on a two-stop strategy, Bianchi was again ahead of Giedo van der Garde in the final phase of the race thanks to a communications mix-up in the Caterham pits, but he was then told that he needed to back off and save fuel in the closing stages.
"We were on a one stop, Caterham on two, and I was able to move up to P18 and keep van der Garde behind for a while, but not long enough unfortunately," said Bianchi. "It is a shame I could not have a strong race today at a track I love."
"It was very close with van der Garde at the end," explained team principal John Booth. "In the dying stages we were getting very low on fuel and given that we had tried to race van der Garde as hard as we could, we had to dramatically slow the pace on the last three laps to ensure we could make it to the flag."
"Another tough race today," said his team mate Max Chilton. "One which underlined the balance problems we've been experiencing all weekend," he added. "The start was okay but we weren't able to keep pace with the competition today.
"What I was encouraged by was my pace versus my team-mate: there was nothing between us for the first 25 laps but every time I got close enough to overtake I lost downforce, so I couldn't do anything to improve."
Chilton felt that he'd suffered from what he described as "the toughest blue flag phase of the season" in the second half of the race which meant that sticking with Bianchi and the Caterhams became increasingly difficult for the Briton.
"It was really hard to make sure I gave the space needed at the right time and not suffer a huge loss of time myself," he said.
Both drivers were looking forward to the next phase of the F1 season which sees the drivers leave Europe behind once more and take to the skies for a final flurry of seven flyaway races for the remainder of 2013.
"Time now to say goodbye to the European phase of my début season for what will be a very challenging run of long-haul races I think," agreed Chilton.
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