Stevens: Manor making big strides in China

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Will Stevens is poised to make his first start for Manor Marussia F1 Team in tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix after comfortably qualifying for the race on what proved to be a trouble-free Saturday for the Briton.

After Manor failed to get either of its cars out on track in Australia, Stevens was unable to start the Malaysian Grand Prix due to a fuel system issue that limited the team to running just one car.

However, the Briton outqualified teammate Roberto Merhi by eight-tenths of a second in China on Saturday, and is hoping to see the flag in the race tomorrow.

“It’s always good to feel progress being made and we’ve been making big strides from session to session here,” Stevens said. “There’s still a long way to go but the progress over the past three weekends is clear for everyone to see.

“The trouble-free practice sessions have really helped us to find a rhythm that has enabled us to make the right set-up changes. The car felt good and I was pretty happy with my lap, so we go into tomorrow in a comfortable position.

“I’m eager for my first race distance in the car and plenty more data to help the team develop, so fingers crossed we can have a good race.”

Team principal John Booth is looking forward to seeing both of the Manor cars racing on track together tomorrow, in what will be another landmark achievement for the revived Marussia operation.

“Today’s qualifying represents another good step for us, with both Will and Roberto posting times well within 107% and edging closer towards our real targets,” Booth said. “It has been a bonus for us to enjoy trouble-free sessions, enabling us to develop the set-up of the cars, extract more of the performance and translate this into a clear improvement in pace.

“Both drivers are doing an excellent job, pushing themselves hard at a time when they are effectively still learning. We’re looking forward to seeing them racing together tomorrow.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30a ET on Sunday.