The Toro Rosso drivers were competing against each other in qualifying today as they battled to get through to Q2 on a track where they struggled to match the pace of their nearest rivals.
Jaime Alguersuari won the battle of the teammates, but could not qualify any higher than seventeenth, and will start tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix just ahead of Sebastien Buemi.
“It was very difficult today to make the step from Q1 to Q2, but in the end I think I got a good lap, improving by a tenth,” said Alguersuari, describing how he beat his teammate into the second part of qualifying. “I would say we were not as quick as we expected to be here and could not really attack the Saubers and Force Indias. Therefore we tried running with less downforce to be faster down the straight, but it made Sector 3 very difficult and I had too much oversteer, which meant I could not attack the track.
“As for the race, I think that right from Friday the situation here was clear. This is the sort of race where you can have a lot of crashes and retirements, which could give us a chance to get into the points if we stay out of trouble and do something good with the tyre strategy.
“Tomorrow, we have nothing to lose, so I will start the race in an aggressive fashion and then see where that takes us.”
Buemi said that it was a mistake on his final flying lap that cost him a place in Q2, but insists that he will be trying to improve on his grid position in the race tomorrow.
“I lost quite a bit of time at Turn 19, as I just brushed the wall on the exit to it, which cost me three tenths and a place in Q2, so I cannot be happy with the way the session went,” explained the Swiss driver.
“It was ironic that it was my team-mate who knocked me out of Q2, but now we need to focus on the race and the car's performance has not been too bad overall in free practice, so I will be trying my best as usual to get the very most out of the package for the final time this season.”
Giorgio Ascanelli admitted that tyre choice may have been there downfall in qualifying today, but did point to one achievement that Alguersuari can be proud of in 2010. “We seem to have been around 17th and 18th most of the weekend, so you could say the qualifying result was not surprising,” conceded the Toro Rosso technical director. “I did actually think we could have pipped Tonio (Liuzzi) at the last moment, but it did not work out that way. At the time that we took the decision to do longer runs on the Prime tyre, it seemed like the correct choice, but I suppose that with full hindsight you could say it was the wrong choice as Tonio outqualified us doing two laps on the softer Option. So I was wrong.
“One cause for satisfaction at the end of the season? Whatever happens tomorrow, Jaime is the driver who has completed the most laps, the greatest mileage this season, including all running at the 19 Grands Prix, including the Friday and Saturday sessions.”