Despite showing good pace at Austin last weekend, the Scuderia Toro Rosso left the United States with only one point to show for their efforts, with Jean-Eric Vergne being classified in tenth. Team-mate Daniil Kvyat was looking feisty towards the end of the race but damage caused when fighting with Kimi Raikkonen necessitated an extra pit stop and left him well outside the top ten.
The team arrive in Interlagos this weekend for the Brazilian Grand Prix hoping to secure more points with Vergne and Kvyat, while they also give Max Verstappen his third opportunity in Friday morning practice.
Vergne admits Brazil is one of his favourite races of the season, and feels the race can be quite unpredictable, especially if the rain that can often fall at a moments notice the circuit arrives.
“The Interlagos circuit is atypical and it’s really neat,” said Vergne. “The old-style paddock is certainly unique and it has some character! What is cool about this Grand Prix is at this time of year, it can often rain in Brazil, usually just as the cars are on the starting grid! That makes for races that are very exciting in which anything can happen, right up to the chequered flag.
“The track has been completely resurfaced apparently, but we will need to see if that means there are less bumps. Usually, the bumps and the general layout mean it’s quite a tiring track to drive. Like Austin, it’s another anti-clockwise track, but the comparative lack of downforce with the current cars means it doesn’t put a particular strain on your neck. I really like Brazil the country, the atmosphere and I reckon it’s one of my favourite races of the year.”
Team-mate Kvyat ran during free practice in 2013 at the track in wet conditions, ending up inside the top ten on the timing screens, but is hoping to experience the track in dry conditions this time around.
“This is another track where I drove in FP1 last year and I enjoyed the experience,” said Kvyat. “It was a wet session and I ended up in the top ten, which was very good for me at that time. It was my first time in Brazil and I liked the country a lot. So I am looking forward to taking part in the complete race weekend this time and experiencing the circuit in the dry maybe.
“It’s a very short lap of course, so there is no time to pause for breath. I’ve heard they’ve resurfaced the track, but as I only drove it in the wet, I can’t really say what difference that might make. There is a really good atmosphere at this circuit, with the crowd being very enthusiastic.”
Verstappen finished inside the top ten for the first time in practice in Austin last weekend, but admits he has still yet to push to the maximum as he knows he needs to hand the car back to Vergne once the session is over, and he cannot afford to crash.
“I’ve done two Friday FP1 sessions now and I’m gaining confidence with every lap,” insisted Verstappen. “I always have to remember that I’m driving JEV’s car, so I never push to the maximum, as I need to be sure I have a car to give back to him at the end of the session! I would say the area where I still have the most to learn is the tyres and I had not realised how tricky that element would be.
“I have driven the Brazilian track for a few laps in the simulator and it looks very interesting. They say there’s always a chance of rain at this time of year in Sao Paolo and honestly, I would be quite happy if it rained on Friday morning, as I have never driven this car in the wet and it would be a useful experience.”