Jean-Eric Vergne is relishing the challenges presented by the Marina Bay circuit in Singapore even though he admitted it took some time getting used to. The French rookie was eighteenth at the end of the night and was happy to have kept his nose clean, confident that the pace he’s lacking to catch the midfield will come tomorrow.
“This is definitely the hardest new circuit I have come across so far this season, with so many corners and the fact it’s really hot. I really enjoyed this whole experience of racing on a street circuit at night, but at first I was making a lot of mistakes on what is a very long lap. But I am getting used to it, I brought the car back in one piece and I know I will improve tomorrow. Overall, the car did not feel too bad, so I think if we can improve it a bit and I learn my way round a bit better, there should be more to come for the rest of the weekend.”
Toro Rosso teammate Daniel Ricciardo was much more competitive in fourteenth although he failed to make the kind of improvements other drivers made between sessions, something he is keen to get to the bottom of.
“This is not your run of the mill circuit, with the night and the atmosphere at what is a unique venue. It’s great to have a change and myself and Jean-Eric had a chat after the first session and both agreed we were having fun! I felt the first session went better than the second and the changes we made before FP2 meant we did not seem to keep up with track evolution. We therefore need to think what we can do to get closer to the top ten like we were in the first session. But trying things out, whether they work or not, is what Friday is about. As for the tyres, the Supersoft is naturally faster and by quite a bit, while the Soft logically proved more consistent over a long run.”
Chief Engineer Laurent Mekies was disappointed that the car was unable to repeat some encouraging single lap pace on a longer run and is hoping to make a step forward tomorrow.
“A very different challenge to our last race in Monza, the lowest downforce track of the year and the Singapore layout was always going to be more challenging for us. We had a full programme to get through today, which required doing a lot of laps, partly to allow our drivers, especially Jean-Eric on his first visit here, to get into the rhythm of this difficult circuit. We also needed to find the best compromise in terms of car balance on short and long runs. We still have plenty of work to do, because although there were moments today when our performance was reasonable, we were not able to reproduce that consistently. We have to understand the reasons for that so we can move forward. On the positive side, both cars ran reliably and neither of our guys made any mistakes and we know how tough this track can be for the drivers. We evaluated a couple of new elements on the car and we have to look at all the data with the aim of upping our overall performance, especially in race trim for Sunday.”