Caterham and Marussia were unable to continue their fine form from qualifying during today’s Belgian Grand Prix as both teams endured a difficult race at Spa-Francorchamps.
During Q1 yesterday, Giedo van der Garde, Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi all gambled by taking on slick tires when the track was still damp and most teams were opting to use intermediates. However, the decision paid off as all three drivers made it through to Q2 ahead of more established teams such as Williams and Toro Rosso. This was also the first time since 2010 that Marussia had got a driver into Q2, and the first time ever that the team had managed to get both drivers into the second session.
Off the start, Chilton and Bianchi both struggled and fell down the order, but van der Garde performed admirably to hang on to his grid slot of P14 at first. However, as the laps went by, the Caterham driver lost more and more positions and eventually only sat ahead of teammate Charles Pic and the two Marussias.
Although the result may appear to be disappointing on face value, both teams will be delighted with how the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps went. Neither team expected to run strongly in the dry, yet van der Garde’s pace in the first few laps will give Caterham a confidence boost. Ultimately, the Dutchman was the leading driver from the bottom two teams in P17, finishing thirty-five seconds ahead of Bianchi and over seventy seconds ahead of Chilton. Charles Pic, who had qualified last, retired early on whilst Chilton’s race was hampered by a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags.