There were mixed feelings for Toro Rosso after today’s Qualifying session at Sepang International Circuit. Daniel Ricciardo made it to Q2
while Jean Eric Vergne didn’t get a clean lap in the closing stage of Q1 and was eliminated.
“I don’t know how much better I could have done, but it’s never nice to be out at the end of Q1. I was held up in the final sector by another car and lost between four and five tenths and that cost me the chance of getting to Q2,” Jean-Eric Vergne explained.
The French driver will start in 17th place on the grid tomorrow: “If we want to find positives, then at least I have saved a set of new tyres for the race, which could be important as this track is very hard on tyres. Being behind my team-mate? It means nothing today and the important thing is to be in front tomorrow! As usual, I am still being optimistic about tomorrow and hope to go after some points. Anything can happen in this race and in free practice we saw we had a good pace on a long run, which is encouraging.”
It was Daniel Ricciardo’s turn to out-qualify his team-mate this week-end as he managed to get into Q2 to secure a race start
from 13th position. “Coming into qualifying today, if I’d been told I could sign on the dotted line for thirteenth, I’d have taken it. It’s a decent result and we haven’t been that far up the time sheets all weekend in practice. Looking at it that way, thirteenth is quite good, but in Q1, we were quite competitive and only one hundredth of a second from the top ten. With the rain coming, maybe we missed an opportunity to do better. We have improved but I still want more,” said Ricciardo.
He has big expectations from the race and is hoping to score his first ponts of the season: “Tomorrow, I plan to move up the order in what could be an unpredictable race. I really want to be in the top ten and get some points on the board early in the season.”
Technical director James Key says the team is pleased with the changes they made for qualifying and believe those will also be suitable for the race.
“We knew the balance of the car would be very different to Melbourne and we adjusted the car accordingly for Friday, but the difference in ca balance and tyre behaviour was greater than we had expected. Overnight, we wanted to take another step for this morning, but on both cars it was actually a step too far and the softer tyres did not work well and the balance was not optimum," said Key.
"So we went back a bit for qualifying, making some additional changes. This did the trick, so we expected Q1 to be fine for us. Unfortunately, Jean-Eric encountered traffic and did not get a clean lap, which was a shame as both drivers have been evenly matched, so he looked likely to get through to Q2. Daniel did exactly what was required to secure a good Q2 position, especially considering how tight it is in the midfield," he added.