20 April 2015
F1 Bahrain Grand Prix: Stevens happy with Manor-Marussia progress
Despite being slowed at the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix, F1 rookie Will Stevens can see progress every time he takes to the track with the Manor-Marussia team.
He may not have been a factor in the battle for points, but Will Stevens is content with the progress being made by backmarker Manor-Marussia as F1 heads home from its opening 'flyaway' races.
Having overcome concerns that the team may not even appear this season, and then that it may be so far off the pace that it fell foul of the 107 per cent rule, Stevens – along with fellow rookie Roberto Merhi - has shown relatively strong form in two of the four races to date, completing the distance on both occasions. His Bahrain Grand Prix may only have yielded 16th place, but again he saw the chequered flag ahead of his team-mate and, for now, that is solid evidence of progress for the Briton.
“The biggest thing everyone was talking about to start with was the 107 per cent [rule] and I think, at race pace, we're at 104 per cent so, personally, I feel well within the 107 per cent and don't think, anywhere, that we should have much of a problem,” he noted, “It's nice to know that we've got over that hurdle and we can keep focusing on closing the gap to the people in front of us.
“I'm completely up to speed and feel good in the car. My engineer and I are really making good decisions through the weekend, so we're really getting the most out of what we've got. That's why our race pace is so strong – because we're working in a good direction throughout the weekend. That relationship is only going to get stronger and I think that can only help. Clearly, the start of the year didn't go to plan but, as far as the last two races have gone, every session bar one I've been quicker than my team-mate, so I can't complain. I just hope it continues that way.”
Stevens again out-qualified Merhi in Bahrain but was hampered at the start by Pastor Maldonado's inability to find his own grid slot….
“Maldonado was in the wrong place, so I actually started last when I should have been in front of Merhi,” the former Renault World Series racewinner pointed out, “I was behind him for the first 6-7 laps, which cost me a lot of time but, once I got past, my pace was always strong.
“Our pace here, relative to everyone else, was closer again that it was in China and I felt really good in the car. The option tyre lasted really well for us and we only pitted reasonably early on my second stint to try and help the traffic and blue flags… Overall, it was a trouble-free race and my pace over Roberto was very strong, so we're getting the maximum we can at the moment and just need to carry on doing that for the rest of the races.”
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