‘A lot more to come’ from Bianchi

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Friday practice may only have been Jules Bianchi’s third outing in the Marussia MR-02, but the French rookie has revealed he is excited about the rest of the season following some impressive lap times.

“It has been a very good first practice for the team and for me, so I am quite happy given that it is only my third day in the car.

“It is very encouraging to know that while we have a good basis today, there is a lot more to come.”

Bianchi finished ahead of both Caterham drivers and teammate Max Chilton in FP1 and FP2, with the more impressive statistic being the three-tenth gap to Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas in the respective sessions. Marussia regularly found themselves a few seconds off the midfield in 2012, so the reduced gap suggests the team has made a big step forward.

Despite the strong performance, Bianchi revealed that the team still has work to do for the race on Sunday.

“The car is performing well but we have quite a lot of understeer and we need to improve this.

“As for the track, I like it a lot. It takes a bit of getting used to at first, but once you are up to speed it’s an amazing lap and now I can’t wait to do some more tomorrow.”

A member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, Bianchi has been touted by many as being a future star in Formula One. If he can continue this good form in qualifying and the race, the Australian Grand Prix could present Marussia with their best chance of scoring points for the first time in the sport which would be a massive achievement for Bianchi and the team.

FIA returns Manor’s F1 entry fee for 2017

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Good news: Manor Grand Prix Racing Limited got a refund of an entry fee it paid to the FIA to run in this year’s F1 season.

Bad news: Manor still hasn’t run this year, and won’t be for the foreseeable future (especially as Manor’s former leadership staff is moving that team into FIA WEC’s new-look LMP1 class in addition to its LMP2 program).

Manor Group’s receivership outfit, Just Racing Services Limited, went into administration earlier this year. As there was no new buyer for the F1 team, Manor dropped from the 2017 grid before the season.

The FIA said it would return its entry fee to help Manor Group pay off outstanding debts.

It basically means nothing in the grand scheme of things since Manor missed out on 10th place in the constructor’s standings in 2016 and fell from the F1 grid as a result, but hey, it’s a goodwill gesture going into Thanksgiving this week.