Jules Bianchi has impressed behind the wheel of the Marussia MR03 once again in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix today after getting into Q2 for the second year in a row at Spa.
The French youngster qualified 16th on the grid for tomorrow’s race, pushing bigger names such as Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado out of the shootout at the first hurdle.
Bianchi also managed to get into Q2 at last year’s race in wet conditions, and it holds a special meaning for him at this circuit given that it was the sight of many victories for his great-uncle, Lucien.
“I’m really happy to make it through to Q2 again, especially as it repeats a good performance here last year,” Bianchi said after the session. “I love this track and it’s also very special to me personally, so it is always a really nice feeling to do well here.
“I was a little surprised that we had such a strong qualifying, simply because the tricky conditions were the same for everyone, yet we have fared better than some of the teams further up the grid, finishing ahead of a Lotus, a Force India and a Sauber.
“I’m really pleased for the team as this is a nice reward for them and I hope we can carry it through to the race now.”
It has been a rather chaotic weekend for Marussia at Spa. On Thursday, the team announced that American driver Alexander Rossi would be replacing Max Chilton for the weekend until the Briton’s contractual issues had been resolved. However, it then performed a u-turn and said that Chilton had been reinstated as of FP2 on Friday. Chilton’s comments have also raised some concerns about the future of the team.
On Saturday at Spa though, Bianchi certainly brought the team some much-needed good news.
You can watch the Belgian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7.30am ET tomorrow.
Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.
The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.
“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.
“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.
“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”
The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.
Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.
Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.
McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.