Scuderia Toro Rosso produced one of the stand-out performances on Friday in Malaysia with Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne finishing the afternoon in fifth and eighth respectively.
Ricciardo isn't a complete novice when it comes to Sepang having raced in junior categories here, as well as having driven in FP1 last year, but the Australian admits that today was a completely new experience for him.
“I've driven here before in Formula BMW, but when you switch to a Formula 1 car, the notes go out the window! But all the same, it helps to have some previous track experience. The simulator work has probably been more useful to me. The track is quite technical and I think we made a good step forward this afternoon, compared to the morning which was quite difficult. Much of our work today centred on adapting the car to the very different track characteristics here compared to Melbourne and the biggest difference of course is the temperature. The tyres have to work harder in these conditions and therefore getting the car balance right is crucial.”
Teammate Vergne was also taken aback by the intensity of driving in the sweltering heat but is confident he will acclimatise as the weekend goes on.
“Since last year, I've driven the track at the simulator a lot, but they don't have the heating turned to maximum in Milton Keynes! Overall, I think today went well for us, I had a strong long run this afternoon, when my pace was good and Daniel's lap time shows we have a good car. I feel quite confident and happy with how things are going. Obviously, I am experiencing the heat and humidity for the first time, but I expect to get more used to it as the weekend goes on, so I have no concerns for the race from the physical point of view.”
Chief Engineer Laurent Mekies was pleased to see the rain stay away despite the ominous forecast ahead of FP2 and was particularly impressed with the reliability of the STR7.
“Another positive Friday, after the one we had in Melbourne. Today was more straightforward than last week, because the weather conditions were stable with a dry track. We had a few aero elements to evaluate in the morning and then in the afternoon, we worked on set-up. We spent quite a lot time evaluating the two compounds with both drivers in different conditions. Jean-Eric and Daniel did well, completing more than a race distance in both cars, in these hot conditions. Tonight's task is to make the best use of all the data we have gathered, converting it into more performance for Saturday and Sunday.”