The Toro Rosso team were one of the stars of qualifying in China today as Jaime Alguersuari secured an impressive seventh place on the Shanghai grid, with team-mate Sebastien Buemi taking ninth.
Alguersuari admitted that getting through to Q3 was a pleasant surprise for him and the team, citing a lack of pace for their rivals, and a well timed red-flag in Q2, caused by the broken-down Renault of Vitaly Pretov, as the reasons for this unexpected result.
“I need to congratulate the team for doing a good job and choosing the right strategy to tackle this session,” said the Spaniard. “Getting Sebastien and myself into Q3 is definitely a success for the whole team as it was no easy task. We did not really expect to be there to be honest, looking at the speed of some of our rivals and the red flag in Q2 definitely helped us.
“Tomorrow I think there is a possibility to pick up a good amount of points and I am optimistic because today, we chose a car set-up better suited to the race than to do a quick lap in qualifying. It's true we are not used to starting from this position and I might have to run a defensive race and see how our tyres perform, as this will again be a key factor.”
Buemi was clearly a little disappointed to be out-qualified by his less-experienced team-mate but, like Buemi, is hoping for a decent points haul tomorrow. “I am very happy for the team result, with two cars in the top ten,” he said. “As for myself, I am a bit disappointed that, for the sake of half a tenth I have dropped from seventh to ninth. The team can be very pleased with this performance and with the result we have not seen for a while.
“Whatever the circumstances today, I know the team has worked very hard at the track and back at the factory to do the very best it can and in general we look much more competitive than we were last year. I hope it will be good enough to get us in the points tomorrow.
“It will be an important race for us, given we have these good grid positions. The first thing will be to make sure we get all the way to the end and if we do that, then I think it could be a good grand prix for us.”
The Toro Rosso technical director Giorgio Ascanelli also seemed surprised by the team’s performance, but was clearly happy with the result: “Racing is a funny sport, given that on a weekend when our performance in free practice had not matched that in the first two races, we have ended up with both cars in Q3 in seventh and ninth places,” he said. “The gaps in the midfield are very small and in general, we have not been that competitive, with Force India being on a par with us or even faster and Williams also closing in.
“In Q1 I think there were eleven cars within the same two tenths, which tells you how close it is. Our cars have run reliably and although what happened to Vitaly (Petrov) was unfortunate, I can't say I feel sorry for him because it has given us a chance to be ahead.
“Can we stay ahead in tomorrow's race? That's another story. The weather forecast is currently stable, but if there was to be any rain or anything else unpredictable happening, then starting ahead can be an advantage. Yes, I would like to score points and starting seventh and ninth is better than seventeenth and nineteenth but, as I said, the midfield is so competitive that anything can happen over the arc of the 56 laps tomorrow.”