Will Stevens says it feels “really nice” to complete his first race with Manor at last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix after his two previous attempts were thwarted by reliability issues.
While team-mate Roberto Merhi had been able to start and finish the Malaysian Grand Prix two weeks ago, the 23-year-old Briton had been confined to the Manor garage because of a fuel system issue on his car.
The ex-Marussia squad enjoyed a much smoother weekend at Shanghai International Circuit with both 2014-spec Ferrari-powered MR03s being able to run across all sessions.
Lining up right behind the McLarens on the last row of Sunday’s starting grid, Stevens and Merhi enjoyed a steady race to reach the chequered flag in P15 and P16 respectively.
“It’s really nice to get the first race underway this year,” Stevens told F1i in Shanghai.
“I had to learn pretty quickly in the race because the longer stints I had done before that was like six laps. I always knew in a race that I feel really strong on tyre degradation and management of the tyres. I think this could be a strong point for me this year.
— Manor F1 Team (@ManorF1Team) April 12, 2015
“My start was not great but issues can get solved pretty quickly. As far as the race went, the first stint was pretty good. I just saved the tyres for the first six or seven laps and I could see Roberto was struggling, so I knew I could get past him. The rest of the race ran pretty smoothly. The pace was pretty strong I think.”
After neither Manor driver could even take to the track at Melbourne’s season opener, Stevens was especially pleased to see his team record a double finish less than a month later. The ex-Formula Renault 3.5 race winner also took satisfaction from outqualifying and outracing his team-mate along the way.
“It just shows how far we’ve come to have a reliable car, not only for me but for both cars to finish the race. We knew when we ironed out a few issues we had, that would be the case. It’s a testament to the team where we’ve come and I think from here onward we can only start improving.
“Clearly at the moment, the main thing is you want to get bot cars to the finish. The only person I can beat at the moment is my team-mate. Any test sessions or whatever race or qualifying I need to be being here and showing I’m doing a good job, not only for me but for the team and everyone else as well.
“Doing a race run of 56 laps or however long the race was, it will be massively helpful to me for Bahrain. Overall, it’s been a solid weekend for us.”
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