Toro Rosso pair Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne will line up next to each other on the grid for the Belgian Grand Prix after comfortably making it through to Q2 at Spa.
Vergne's best time of 1min 49.354secs was good enough to finish in 15th, while Ricciardo was two-tenths of a second down on the Frenchman and will start 16th as a result.
Vergne was perhaps the happier of the two drivers, not only comfortably reaching Q2 after having been dumped out in Q1 in six of the first eleven races of the season, but out-qualifying his team-mate for only the third time this season.
“I think that was a solid performance for me and the team today,” he said. “I think, personally, I did a good job. I have struggled a bit with qualifying since the start of the year, but race by race I have made progress and today, to finish ahead of my team-mate, shows that I am getting better at it. However, I made a couple of mistakes on my fast lap, so maybe I could have been a bit quicker. We plan to be aggressive tomorrow and grab any opportunity that comes our way on track.”
Ricciardo was more subdued, but having made it into Q2 without much drama, was still feeling positive for the race.
“I don't think I got the best lap I could in Q2, because I'd done the same time in Q1”, he said. “Normally you go quicker in Q2 and I was hoping to find more time but I did not manage it. But I am still in a positive frame of mind for the race. I have a feeling we can do better tomorrow afternoon as at times today, our pace showed signs of promise.”
After a season featuring a succession of frustrating early exits in Q1, Chief Engineer Laurent Mekies was happy with the performance of the two cars after the four week summer break.
“It is encouraging that we have got both cars into Q2 reasonably comfortably,” he said. “This was because our two drivers worked well in this morning's free practice and therefore they were immediately on the pace in Q1. Fifteenth place is realistically about the best we could have expected and a fair reflection of our current performance level, even if we could maybe have found a few more fractions of a second. It seems that the gap to our direct competitors might have closed a little bit, but this remains to be confirmed in the race.”
Spa is a circuit that can throw up many surprises, with the idiosyncrasies of the historic track placing unique and different demands on tyres and chassis alike, and the Toro Rosso squad will be hoping that a solid and un-remarkable qualifying is simply a prelude to a roller-coaster ride of a Grand Prix.
“Like everyone we have had little running in the dry so far this weekend,” Mekies added. “That means we can expect a very interesting race, as always in fact at Spa, with maybe a few surprises to come from the relative lack of knowledge relating to the tyre compounds.”
by Joshua Bonser