Crash.Net F1 News
No action taken over runaway Marussia
8 July 2013
While the stewards deliberated over two cases of unsafe release from pit-stops at the German Grand Prix, the topography of the Nurburgring copped the blame for the errant Marussia that brought out the mid-race safety car.
Force India and Red Bull both copped financial penalties for allowing their drivers to leave their first pit-stops prematurely, but Jules Bianchi's runaway MR02 could have had equally serious consequences had it decided to follow a different path.
As it was, it teased the trackside crews by starting to roll backwards down the hill away from the final chicane just as the rescue truck arrived on the scene, crossing the circuit before finally coming to rest astride an advertising hoarding that, fortuitously, became wedged under its wheels.
Race leaders Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean were the first on the scene and, although the car had already come to a halt by the time they passed, the safety car was scrambled to allow for a second recovery attempt.
The team made no mention of the incident in its post-race press release, but sporting director Graeme Lowdon later told Press Association Sport that frustration at seeing a promising run for Bianchi ended by engine failure quickly turned to relief that a more serious incident had not occurred.
"Jules pulled off the track straight away, the car was in neutral when he stopped, and he then [returned to the car to] put the steering wheel back on, as he is required to do,” Lowdon explained, "There was a marshal in attendance when he left the car, which was stationary. There was nothing more Jules could have done.
"There was clearly no engine, he couldn't put it in gear, he couldn't do anything with it at all. What happened [next] is part of the nature of this circuit - it's hilly. [It's] obviously not something you want to see, but one of those things.
"Thankfully nobody had to avoid the car. There was obvious relief nothing happened, but it was pretty slow moving at the time and the yellow flags were also out."
Bianchi's exit capped a disappointing weekend for the Marussia team, which began with a stomach bug ruling the Frenchman out of Friday practice and ended with just one car reaching the finish.
“I got a very poor start and it was a real battle to recover from that and stay ahead of [Charles] Pic,” Bianchi admitted, “I had just completed my second pit-stop and got ahead of [Giedo] van der Garde when the engine let go.
“I think we had the pace to be able to fight to keep both Caterhams behind had I continued, [as] the car felt well-balanced and we were showing the usual more positive race pace. It has been a less than straightforward weekend so perhaps this was just not destined to be our race.”
The most positive news from the Marussia camp came in the shape of a ninth finish from nine races for fellow rookie Max Chilton, although the Briton was frustrated not to be able to better 19th position.
“Unfortunately for Jules, he had an engine problem so I knew that I had to do my best to get some reward for the team,” the Briton noted, “But it wasn't an easy race today.
“We both struggled with our starts and in the opening few laps, but then I started to close the gap to Charles [Pic] and Jules. I was happy with the car [and], in the middle stint, there was nothing between us and Caterham - then the safety car came out and stirred up everyone's strategies. We made the right call, but just suffered with rear tyre wear with ten laps to go….”
Team principal John Booth admitted that, for all the disappointment, there could still be positives to take from the race when viewed in hindsight.
“It's an incredibly disappointing result for the team but perhaps one which, when digested on Monday morning, will be viewed more favourably,” he concluded, “It is clear we had much more potential today and Jules' unfortunate engine problem meant that we were unable to beat our nearest competitors. We don't yet know the cause but I am sure that, working with Cosworth, we will be able to make an initial assessment of what went wrong.
“What was pleasing today was to see Max running very much at the same pace as Jules and the Caterhams throughout the race. He only lost out due to a more oversteered balance today, which meant that his rear tyres suffered later in the stint.”