A tough race was predicted in Sakhir today and a tough race it was, as the Bahrain International Circuit dealt the Marussia F1 Team a tough battle with the tyres and, disappointingly, its first retirement in eight race starts.
Charles Pic started the race from P19 on the grid, with Timo displaced to P23 by penalties for drivers further up the field. True to form, Timo fought hard on the opening lap to make up the deficit and the two drivers were running in P19 and P20 respectively at that stage before settling into P20 and 21.
The opening stint of the race was the most critical, as with a heavy fuel load the tyre degradation was always going to be at its most severe. It was clear that from lap three onwards Timo was struggling with the balance of his car, whilst Charles was managing the tyres well and was able to stay out longer ahead of his first pitstop.
Charles’ second stint was progressing equally well until lap 24 of the race when his car suffered a drop in pressure with the AVS (Air Valve System) and he was forced to retire, unable to make it back to the garage for his second pitstop.
Timo took the chequered flag to P19, securing further valuable mileage and data in challenging circumstances for the Pirelli P-Zero rubber, but it was far from an easy ride. He too experienced the AVS consumption issue and his car was off-balance for much of the race.
“It was a very difficult race today. I had no balance in the car, no speed and no chance to push after the second or third lap. The rear tyres dropped off massively and every time I did try to push, the rears locked under braking and I had no braking stability. Unfortunately this is a weekend to learn from then put behind us quite quickly. We have had a complex journey from Friday to Sunday and we need to retrace our steps and look at the set-up decisions we made in order to understand how we can improve and apply the updated package from Spain.”
“Naturally I am disappointed, as the race was tough but I was quite happy with the car and managing the tyre wear quite well. Despite the challenging track conditions I was still able to push and I think we were sitting quite well versus the pace of the Caterhams. Unfortunately on lap 24 I had a problem with the Air Valve System and I had no option but to retire the car, which is frustrating for me and the team as they have worked very hard to keep us moving forward here all weekend. As we head to Europe now I have to be pleased with the opening few races in general, but we need to be focused now on improvements for Spain. ”
John Booth, Team Principal
“On a positive note, in today’s race we saw a continuation of Charles’ increasingly strong form and consolidation of his good work from yesterday. It’s a real shame that the as yet undiagnosed AVS problem on the engine forced an early retirement during a period of the race where Charles was very competitive with respect to the cars that he was racing. Timo was also beset by the same engine issue and we’ll work hard with Cosworth in the next few days to understand the causes of these problems. Unfortunately, our slightly bigger issue has been with the handling characteristics of Timo’s car, which came into play from Saturday morning onwards. We have to identify and properly understand the problems that he has been experiencing with the car. Fortunately the Mugello test in one week’s time will provide us with some opportunity to iron out these issues away from the pressures of a race weekend. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the team on a job very well done throughout the first four races, which have each brought their own unique challenges. We leave the opening long haul leg behind a much stronger team and with plenty of cause for optimism for the start of the European season.”