Stop and go
Meanwhile, out on track, Jérôme was running well. He had jumped one of the HRTs on the run down to the first corner, but then ended up at the back of the field later in the lap when he had to avoid debris on the track. By the time he came to stop for the first time on lap 18, the team decided to convert him to two-stops.
From then on it was vital that he looked after his tyres, which he successfully managed to do. At his second stop, on lap 33, the team fitted Primes, which meant he would need to make them last for 25 laps. The strategy paid off and he finished his third race in 20th position.
“It was a good race for me I'd say. Obviously I was pretty much on my own during the race as I was faster than the HRTs. I had a good fight at the beginning then I couldn't keep up with the Lotus cars, but it was good for me to manage the tyres well and be able to change to a two-stop strategy. Overall I'm happy with my performance this weekend - Qualifying in particular - and the team has worked very well. I'm looking forward to working with them to develop the whole package and I hope we can take a step forward in Spain.”
“A very short race for me. It was very frustrating to experience a problem with fifth gear just as I was making my way to the grid. I have to say the team did an amazing job to try to get me back on track but in the end it just wasn’t possible. Overall I think we have made some progress this weekend but there is still plenty of hard work ahead of us if we are to keep pushing forward. Everyone is very committed to seeing that happen though, so we stay focused and look ahead to Spain when I hope we will have made enough progress to reintroduce the new floor and exhaust which should help us a little more.”
John Booth, Team Principal
“When the pit lane opened ready for the start of the race we had no reason to suspect that we would have anything other than a relatively straightforward grid procedure, so it was a surprise to hear Timo report a broken fifth gear on his reconnaissance lap. Back in the garage we attempted to change the gearbox, which is no mean feat in the pre-race window and when Jérôme’s car was lining up on the grid as normal. With the two car crews split between the two different situations, Timo’s crew worked calmly and methodically under extreme pressure to take the rear of the car apart.
Despite a Herculean effort, in the end we took the decision not to compromise the car that was still in the race because the way things were panning out with the tyres, it looked likely that we would have some last minute calls from the pitwall and we needed the full crew to be on ready alert. We’re disappointed for Timo after his efforts and we’ll look into the data now to understand why this happened. Having experienced many gearbox issues last year and then to make such made enormous strides with the quality of the preparation this year, it is highly unusual that we should experience this problem.
“As for Jérôme, we predicted that he would have a real ‘racer’s race’ and that is exactly what we saw. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands, using the DRS effectively to steal a march on Karthikeyan the minute the activation period came into play, then after a 3 or 4 lap battle with Liuzzi using the DRS, Jérôme’s tenacity paid off and he was able to ease away. From that point it was a lonely race for him, however he maximised the opportunity to perfect the strategy and managed the traffic well. In fact this was a race where we encountered the least instances of blue flags in our 23-race tally.
We’ll look into the data now to understand why this happened
On lap 30 we decided to change to a two-stop strategy, which was brave at the time given what everything else that was going on around us. We held our nerve and Jérôme drove brilliantly, preserving the Prime tyres to allow this strategy to work. Our focus now moves towards an aero test at the Idiada proving ground in Spain next Sunday, where we will continue our evaluation of the new aero package under more controlled conditions in the hope of bringing more to the car in Spain. We are also pleased to be providing one of the drivers from our young driver programme - Adrian Quaife-Hobbs from Marussia Manor Racing GP3 - with an exciting first opportunity to drive a Formula One car.”
Source: Marussia Virgin