Bianchi: Upgrades working well in Barcelona

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Marussia driver Jules Bianchi is pleased with the progress that the team has made over the three week break, with the Frenchman keen on re-establishing his dominance over Caterham at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Bianchi has been the stand-out driver at the back of the grid so far this season, but in Bahrain he finished well behind Charles Pic which caused many to question Marussia’s chances for the rest of the year. However, the young Frenchman is pleased with the upgrades that have been brought to Barcelona.

“The car feels quite different to when I last drove here and the improvements we have made are clear to see, which is good,” Bianchi explained in a team statement. “The developments we have brought here seem to be working well so far.”

Like many, Bianchi was unwilling to exaggerate the impact of the upgrades, only implying that there was still room for improvement.

“Extracting the most from the new components will take a little more time but once again we seem to have followed a good path and I hope we can be where we want to be this weekend.”

FP1 saw Bianchi’s teammate, Max Chilton, sit out in order to give reserve driver Rodolfo Gonzalez some track time, and the Venezuelan driver finished in P21 with the slowest official time. Chilton returned for FP2, finishing P21, and Bianchi finished 18th and 20th in the respective sessions, which will give him some encouragement heading into qualifying tomorrow.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”