Daniil Kvyat saw his chance of a points finish in the Mexican Grand Prix disappear on the final lap after contact with Nico Hülkenberg earned him a ten-second time penalty that relegated him from ninth to eleventh.
The Scuderia Toro Rosso driver was disappointed by the call to punish him for what he felt was a genuine attempt to pass Hülkenberg, with the Renault F1 Team driver being tipped into the barriers by Kvyat as the duo battled over ninth place on the final lap.
“I’m quite upset with the penalty I received because as a racing driver, I disagree with it because we are told we are allowed to race,” said the Russian. “Nico was defending and I was attacking and these things happen, especially on the last corner of the last lap.
“Despite this, I feel very strong after this weekend; Friday, Qualifying, and the race were all strong for me, so I’m looking forward to getting back on track next week in Austin.”
Kvyat admitted that starting on the soft Pirelli compound left them compromised at the start of the race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with their strong Qualifying session almost hampering their chances in the race.
“We knew it was going to be difficult today with our starting compound, but we still had high hopes to get some points,” said Kvyat. “I think the race was very strong given the circumstances.
“In a way we kind of compromised our race with our good Qualifying.”
The collision between Kvyat and Hülkenberg meant the second Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly was able to gain two places on the final lap to finish ninth, two points that move him back ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr. and into sixth place in the Drivers’ Championship.
Gasly, who was suffering ill-health during the Mexican Grand Prix weekend, was also compromised early by the need to start on the soft tyre but he was able to make the strategy work and move back into contention for points.
“It wasn’t easy at all inside of the cockpit, but today I gave everything and I’m happy with scoring two points,” said Gasly. “Overall the car has been competitive all weekend, which was positive.
“Starting the race on the Option tyre clearly wasn’t ideal, but we tried to make the best out of it. In the end we managed to make it work which was important for our battle in the Championship.”
Guillaume Dezoteux, the Head of Vehicle Performance at Toro Rosso, felt the Mexican Grand Prix was a tough race for the team, although he was happy to see them bring home at least two points from the weekend.
He says both drivers were hampered by the need to start on the soft tyre and by stretching the first stint, both were passed by drivers running on harder compounds. He also felt Kvyat’s move on Hülkenberg was an ‘ambitious’ one, but it was the last opportunity the Russian would get with the chequered flag literally around the corner.
“We had a tough race today in Mexico,” said Dezoteux. “Having to start on the soft tyres definitely compromised our race as we had to stop earlier than the other midfield runners to try and make the two-stop strategy work.
“Daniil drove a strong race and he was showing good pace in the middle stint on the hard tyres. After his last stop, he was catching [Lance] Stroll in front but couldn’t pass immediately and had to let by a long train of leading cars. The time lost with the blue flags meant he could only catch Hülkenberg on the very last laps. The move on the last corner was a bit ambitious and unfortunately Daniil had a 10s penalty for causing a collision.
“Pierre had a very similar strategy as he too started on the soft tyre. He lost more time in traffic, especially behind Sainz who was struggling a lot on the hard compound. The second half of the race was competitive as he ran most of the time in free air and he was able to pass Stroll and get closer to Daniil and Hülkenberg. The collision in the last corner allowed him to finish P9.”
Toyoharu Tanabe, the Honda F1 Technical Director, said it was frustrating for Toro Rosso not to be able to convert the good pace they showed earlier in the weekend into more than just the two points, but it was the handicap of starting on the soft tyre that left them vulnerable from behind.
“It was a disappointing race in that we were unable to convert the speed we had shown all weekend into a better result,” said Tanabe. “The Toro Rosso drivers, after showing good pace all weekend, had a frustrating race, possibly handicapped by having to start on the used Softs from qualifying.
“But at least Gasly’s two points are useful for the fight for fifth place in the Constructors’ classification. There are only three more races to go and we want to make the most of every opportunity, starting in Austin in a few days’ time.”