16 November 2013
United States Grand Prix: Tough day in Texas for Marussia
A variety of issues prevented Marussia from showing its true potential as the USGP weekend opened in Austin.
The Marussia team admitted that it has a long way to go before being able to tackle back-of-the-grid rival Caterham at the United States Grand Prix, after running into a series of problems on the opening day in Austin.
Both Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi complained about a lack of balance in their MR02 chassis, although the Frenchman's day was hampered by having to give up his seat to reserve Rodolfo Gonzalez in the morning session. The Venezuelan did not get much running, however, as the session was initially delayed, then reduced in length, by fog and the late arrival of the medical helicopter, before grinding to a halt exiting turn twelve after only 17 laps. The team later revealed that the engine had responded to a 'kill mode' used on Fridays and turned itself off after detecting a problem.
“Today was not a very straightforward day, but we did make progress with the programme, so it's just a shame to experience the engine problem at the end of the session,” Gonzalez commented, “I had a very specific programme to help the team understand some race trim issues experienced over the past few races, so it's good that we have some useful data to work with.”
Information or not, it could not prevent Marussia from propping up the timesheets after lunch, with Chilton ending his day in the turn 20 run-off after a spin. The Briton enjoyed a positive morning and finished ahead of Caterham's Charles Pic, in 20th position, but suffered brake disc failure in the afternoon.
“Generally, I've had a good day today, when everything seemed to be going in a positive direction, so I think we have to look beyond the brake disc problem that cut short my afternoon session because we seem to be making good progress,” Chilton reported, “Luckily, we didn't lose much time and we can find a good solution for the rest of the weekend. I have enjoyed my first day at the Circuit of the Americas and hope to see this continue tomorrow and into the race.”
Bianchi may have had a wry smile on his face as he remained in civvies for the morning session as, first, fog and then a missing medical helicopter, delayed and shortened FP1 by 40 minutes. He finally got his first taste of the Circuit of the Americas after lunch, but it proved to be anything but a straightforward acclimatisation as the car's balance remained elusive and he wound up some nine seconds off the pace in 22nd spot.
“When the day is cut short, to just one session, it is not always easy to properly acclimatise to the circuit and be in a good place with the car balance by the end of the day,” the Frenchman admitted, “Today, this was made even more difficult by the fact that the car balance has been really inconsistent, and we had to try lots of different things to try to improve.
“We won't know which is the right solution, or how well it will work until the engineers have looked at all the data this evening, but it has been a tough day and I hope we can resolve a few things overnight to ensure we can have a better day tomorrow.”
Team boss John Booth echoed the belief that day one had indeed been 'tough' for the Banbury squad.
“We have encountered a number of problems,” he confirmed, “Rodolfo's session was cut short by a problem with the engine but, up to that point, he was doing a good job learning the circuit in what were quite cold - and therefore quite low grip - conditions.
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