The Spanish driver Roberto Merhi again completed the task assigned to him by the Manor team, which was to bring the car to the chequered flag in a F1 Grand Prix, the Castellón born driver finishing sixteenth in the Chinese race.
At the start, Roberto lived up to his reputation by confidently passing his team mate and getting close to the McLarens, but the performance of his first set of soft tyres quickly started to degrade so he was passed by Stevens after eight laps. After his first pit stop, Merhi made good progress with the second set of hards, and with the third set , again the softs, and with less fuel, he was consistently cutting down the gap to the fight for the 15th position. Sadly there was no time left to complete the recovery, especially with the deployment of the safety car.
With almost no rest, Roberto is flying tonight to Dubai and from there to Bahrain next Wednesday to face the fourth Grand Prix of the season in the small country on the Persian Gulf.
Roberto Merhi: “I didn’t feel comfortable at the beginning of the race, despite making a good start and gaining a position. With the full load of fuel and the softs, the tyre performance went down too soon so I lost a lot of time in the first stint and later, even if I improved my pace a lot I couldn’t recover it. With the third set of tyres, again softs, is when I felt more comfortable. My lap times were quite good and consistent and I think that I’d have fought to finish one position better.
Anyway, the most important thing for this weekend was the whole progress of the entire team, and in that sense we can feel very happy. We improved a lot, in the race we have had the two cars lapping less than four seconds behind Hamilton’s fastest lap, and compared with the three laps we lost in Malaysia, here they have been just two, on a track with a lap time almost identical to Sepang. That means a lot of seconds of improvement during the 60 laps. In five days time it is starting all over again in Bahrain and I’m pretty sure that there we’ll take yet another step forward. It’s very encouraging to see how the huge effort of all people at Manor team, since the start of the season, is beginning to pay off.”.