Daniel Ricciardo has described failing to reach Q2 for the first time this season as ‘frustrating and a bit disappointing’. The Australian will start tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix from eighteenth place.
The Toro Rosso driver was out-qualified by team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix in March. Vergne will start from sixteenth tomorrow, just ahead of Michael Schumacher.
“It's frustrating and a bit disappointing not to have made the cut to Q2, as this is the first time I've been stuck in Q1 all season and it would have been nice to keep that sheet clean,” said Ricciardo.
“The time I set on my first run on the Prime tyre was not too bad, but I was not completely happy with the car so we made a few changes before the Option run. It immediately felt pretty good but as I came down the main straight, I had a Lotus come out the pits in front of me and it stayed there for most of my lap.
“From the outside, maybe it doesn't look like traffic, but to have someone a couple of seconds in front for a whole lap, can really affect you, especially in qualifying, when you need all the help you can get. It didn't help my cause.
“In terms of our strategy, it was the right call to only go with one set of Option as I am confident we could have made the cut with a clean first lap. I'll try and make up for this disappointment tomorrow.”
Vergne acknowledged thatToro Rossoare still off the pace of their other mid-field rivals at the moment, but thinks that the performance of the car is improving.
“I feel I got the most out of the car we have at the moment and don't think I could have gone much quicker,” said the Frenchman. “We improved our performance in the dry conditions and got a bit closer to those guys ahead of us.
“It's always hard to overtake here, but there are many factors to take into account at this track, including tyre degradation,” added Vergne, looking ahead to the race. “As far as that is concerned, the long run we did this morning looked quite good. Plus, when you look at the way the gap between us and our rivals is always less in the race than on Saturday and, as we seem to have found a bit more performance here, I think we can expect to have a good race tomorrow.”
Chief Engineer Laurent Mekies also claims that things are looking better for the team and their competitiveness.
“Overall, today, our performance is a slight improvement on yesterday, as we are a little bit closer to those who are usually ahead of us, even if we have not caught up yet,” he said. “But the gaps are definitely a bit smaller than those we have seen recently in dry track conditions.
“Specifically here, we were not happy with the car set-up we ran yesterday and so we changed it overnight, which has produced this improvement. Nevertheless, it has not taken us much further up the grid order: Daniel's time is not so representative as he got traffic on his fast lap.
“Jean-Eric made the cut to Q2 and had a fair fight in that session, during which we only ran one set of Options, so maybe we could have done something marginally better with another set, but we will see where having those extra tyres will take us tomorrow.
“It's a long race here and that leaves the door open for various different strategies, which should produce another interesting race.”