All three drivers in the Toro Rosso today in practice for the Chinese Grand Prix were pleased with the balance and behaviour of the STR6 and were all optimistic that they can challenge the teams around them this weekend in Shanghai.
Sebastien Buemi was in the car for both the morning and afternoon sessions today, finishing tenth and thirteenth respectively, completing 39 laps over the course of the day.
“The morning session went really well, as I was able to do a lot of laps and I was happy with how the car behaved,” said the Swiss driver. “We got through quite a full job list and then after lunch, we had a productive time, doing a comparison between the hard and the soft tyres. Unfortunately, a small issue on the car towards the end meant I was unable to finish my long run, but Jaime (Alguersuari) was still doing his, so we will have the data from that to work with.
“It is hard to evaluate our pace and it looks as though at the moment, Force India is quicker than us. Now, we have the whole night to see what we can do to make the car quicker. They have resurfaced several sections, especially at the first corner where they have managed to get rid of a very big bump and there are a few other sections that are now smoother.
“It is clear that we are seeing less tyre degradation than in Malaysia, which is the same for everyone of course, so up to us to see how to exploit this.”
Buemi was partnered by Australian rookie Daniel Ricciardo for the morning session, and the 21-year-old finished a respectable sixteenth in the timesheets, within half a second of Buemi’s best time.
“I last drove here in Formula BMW in 2006, supporting the F1 event and it was wet, so I reckon I was lapping about one minute slower than today!” Ricciardo said. “With a third practice session under my belt, all the procedures I have to work through are becoming more second nature now. My first two runs went well and I felt I was fairly competitive. Then, my final run on new tyres was affected by a small problem, when I was looking to set a faster time.
“My initial impression is that the balance of the car is competitive when looking at the other cars around us and it seems that tyre degradation here should be lower than in Malaysia, so I think Seb and Jaime should be able to have a good weekend.”
For the afternoon session, Jaime Alguersuari took over from Ricciardo and, despite thinking he could have gone faster, the Spaniard was happy with how his session went.
“Even though I only ran this afternoon, we have already spotted several areas where we can improve the car for the rest of the weekend,” he said. “In terms of car set-up, although there is room for improvement, the car felt good right from the beginning in terms of balance. As for my lap times, I got traffic on my fastest lap.
“Tyre degradation is a bit less than in Malaysia, so hopefully we can concentrate more on the car and get a better qualifying performance out of it. Finding more grip will be another job to work on for tomorrow. The track is less bumpy than last year thanks to some resurfacing and in general I think that also helped the tyre degradation situation and, as usual, the track is good fun to drive.”