Jean-Eric Vergne fortunately escaped unscathed from an aerial incident at the Italian Grand Prix, but his DNF typified the frustration felt by the entire Scuderia Toro Rosso team at Monza.
The French rookie was running in 16th spot when he lost the rear of his STR7 under braking for the opening chicane at Rettifilio on lap nine of the final European round of the season. His trajectory took him over the kerbs, which kicked the car high into the air before making a heavy landing that forced Vergne to take his time getting out. Although he eventually walked away from the stricken machine, the former British F3 champion sought medical attention after complaining of being banged up.
“I was taken from the accident to the medical centre but, apart from a bit of pain in my back and my head, I am fine," he reported, "I felt a big impact when the car landed after going up in the air - the kerb is high at that point and I count myself lucky that the car did not flip over."
The actual cause of Vergne's accident remains unclear, with initial television replays suggesting that the Frenchman had been the victim of rear suspension failure as he braked for the chicane. Toro Rosso's immediate post-race assessment was that it had been driver error.
"I don't know why I crashed," Vergne admitted, "All I can remember is that, when I braked, I completely lost control of the back end of the car.”
The team's view may have been altered by the chance to inspect the #17 machine after it was returned to the pits, but no review of the cause was forthcoming.
The second STR7 of Daniel Ricciardo appeared to be on course to provide some succour for the team as the Australian held down a top ten spot for much of the closing stags. However, the final tour proved one too many.
“It's been so hard to score points this year and that means it is incredibly disappointing not to get one today," Ricciardo sighed, "I was tenth until the last corner on the very last lap. At that point, I accelerated to exit Parabolica and nothing happened. At the moment, I don't know the cause, but to miss out on a point by a few hundred metres is bitterly disappointing.”
As a result of not adding to its tally, Toro Rosso lost more ground on the teams immediately ahead of it, as both Williams and Sahara Force India put a car into the top ten.
“A frustrating race for us at the end of a difficult weekend on home ground," team boss Franz Tost concluded, "As it was clear we did not have great pace this weekend, we decided to run Daniel on a one-stop strategy in the hope of making up places on those changing tyres twice. It worked to a certain extent as, from 14th on the grid, he was in tenth place for most of the final lap. Unfortunately, his car suffered a fuel pick-up problem, which we now need to investigate.... ”