Toro Rosso Chief Engineer Laurent Mekies said that the team were left ‘frustrated’ by the rain that disrupted this afternoon’s free practice session in Monte Carlo.
With two drivers who have little or no experience of driving a Formula 1 car around these twisty, narrow streets, the last thing the team needed was to have their track time curtailed by the elements, but so it proved today. Despite this Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo still completed 47 and 54 laps respectively.
“Altogether this was a rather frustrating day, as the track conditions were very variable during the afternoon session,” said Mekies. “Given that Daniel has only driven FP1 in Monaco last year for us and Jean-Eric has never driven a Formula 1 car here, our main objective for the day was to give both drivers as much track time as possible on this unique circuit. That is why they were the first out of the pits this morning, as we wanted them to get into the right rhythm and that part of our plan was successful. They seemed to enjoy the experience.
“We also tried to do plenty of laps this afternoon despite the changing conditions, but overall, in terms of the usual jobs of working on the car set-up, we did not achieve that much. Apart from that, we had a trouble free day and the drivers did not make any mistakes and, because of the unusual timetable at this event, we have a whole day tomorrow to think about how we can improve the car for the rest of the weekend.”
Vergne revealed that he was a bit nervous before getting in the car this morning but, despite finishing only seventeenth on the timesheets, was happy with his efforts today.
“This was my first time here in a Formula 1 car and I really enjoyed myself,” said the Frenchman. “Because I did not go particularly well round Monaco in the World Series last year, I was a bit apprehensive about today, although still looking forward to a new experience and not knowing what to expect.
“I think my performance today compared quite well to my team-mate, as Daniel won the last two World Series races he drove at this circuit and he had also had some practice time in the F1 car last year. From that perspective, I am quite happy and I feel the lap time was not important, especially as I had a bit of traffic and I finished my fastest lap in the pit lane.
“I am relatively pleased with the balance of the car which we can fine tune a bit further, but I still need a bit more time to adapt myself to this circuit, even if I liked driving it when it was wet. I feel prepared for whatever weather conditions we might encounter for the rest of the weekend.”
Ricciardo finished the day just behind his team-mate in terms of the fastest laps, but is hopefully of a good day on Saturday – the next time the cars will be out on track.
“Because of the weather in the afternoon, things did not go quite as smoothly as planned and we weren't able to try everything we had hoped to,” said the Australian. “So a bit frustrating, especially as we have a day off tomorrow: I'd prefer to be driving, but it's probably a good thing as we can really think about what we need to do to move forward.
“There are some areas where we need to improve and I'm sure that if we sort that, our performance will change completely and hopefully we will have a good qualifying on Saturday.”