Jean-Eric Vergne has admitted that he thought he could end up losing his hard-earned point in the Malaysian Grand Prix over the collision he suffered with Charles Pic in the pits.
Vergne collided with Pic's Caterham when he was released from his pit box just as his fellow Frenchman came in to make his first stop – damaging the nose of the Toro Rosso and costing him half a minute in the pits.
Stewards confirmed that a decision would be taken over the incident at he end of the race, with Vergne battling back from his delay to cross the line in tenth spot and score the final point.
Writing in his post-Malaysia blog, Vergne admitted he was worried in the final stages that he could end up losing his result, but was then left relieved when stewards instead handed down a $10,000 fine for the incident.
“I have to admit that in the final stint I was a little bit worried about the stewards' reaction to the unsafe release but I think they made the correct decision in the end,” he said. “Sure it's never nice to be punished, but for the kind of mistake we made, I think the penalty was fair. I worked pretty hard for that point so I was really happy to keep it.
“Also it came at Sepang, which I have no problem in admitting is not my favourite track. I don't get along with it very well and find it hard to establish a good rhythm there. Having said that I've scored points both times I've raced there now, so maybe I get along with it better than I think!”
Vergne added that the conditions in Malaysia meant it was still hard to tell where the team lies in relation to its rivals although he said he was encouraged by the performance of the new STR8 on track.
“A lot of people were saying Malaysia, being the first purpose-built track of the year would give an indication of the pecking order but, honestly, with the rain and the heat and everything I still think it's way too early to tell,” he said. “If it's warm in China we might get a clearer picture, but last year it was freezing cold, so who knows.
“What I do think, though, is that the pace of the car is encouraging. I had the fourth fastest time in Malaysia. Yes, it was set on fresh options and light tanks but it's the same for everyone at that stage, so the performance is definitely in the car. I think we don't necessarily maximise the performance on Fridays or in qualifying, so that's where the improvements need to come.
“However, the race pace is good and that's encouraging as we go forwards.”