Toro Rosso drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne are banking on the STR7's good race pace after qualifying poorly in Malaysia. Ricciardo could only manage 15th but he admitted that it was around where he expected to be and believes he has a car which will help him move forward in race conditions.
“Today's performance was okay, but obviously not as good on paper as last Saturday when I was in Q3. Looking at the times, it's very close so a tenth of a second might have made a difference of a few positions. Having said that, the people behind me are quite close as well. I think we are more or less where we thought we would be, as we expected Q3 to be a more difficult target here than in Melbourne. I am reasonably happy with the lap I did, which was pretty clean and I am not kicking myself thinking I could have done better. Hopefully, we have a good package for the race and I will be trying to nose into the points. We've got 56 laps to make up position and yesterday, our long run performance wasn't bad. But if it rains, then it's anyone's game and there will be more opportunities, so that could help.”
Teammate Vergne was knocked out in Q1 after a critical mistake on his option tyre run. The Frenchman locked his front left wheel into turn one and couldn't find the time required with flat-spotted tyres. Vergne took some solace from the fact that he will have an extra set of medium tyres available for tomorrow and hopes they will prove crucial.
“Of course I am a bit disappointed with this result. I made a mistake at the first corner, having a massive lock-up on a front wheel. That created so much vibration that I had to come back to the pits and that was my qualifying over. Looking for something positive, at least it means we have saved one set of new Option tyres for the race. There's also a chance of rain for tomorrow so anything could happen, but whatever the conditions, I feel our car can be competitive in race trim. Compared to Melbourne, the car is pretty much the same so the difference in qualifying result between there and here is down to the fact the mid-field is so close and, as I was not able to do a time on the Option that explains my grid position.”
Chief Engineer Laurent Mekies has pointed to the fact that both drivers had to recover through the field last weekend and is backing them to do so again tomorrow.
“In terms of the result, it's not as good as last week. We are racing in the same mid-field group with Williams, Sauber and Force India and while in Australia we were at the top end of that group, here we are not. We are only talking about two to three tenths of a second from one end of the group to the other. That means we still have every chance to do well tomorrow. In Jean-Eric's case he did not really get to do a time, as he locked a wheel and that's part of the game. Daniel did what he had to, but as it's so tight, a couple of tenths made the difference. In Melbourne we started ahead of this group and after only one lap, we were at the back, so let's hope it's the other way round tomorrow!”