11 October 2013
Japanese Grand Prix: Vergne: It’s a five-race season for STR
Sauber's re-emergence in recent races has put pressure on Toro Rosso to raise its game if it is to hold on to P7 in the teams' standings.
Jean-Eric Vergne has admitted that Toro Rosso has five races to get something from its 2013 F1 campaign, having seen its points advantage overhauled by Sauber in the past three races.
Although team-mate Daniel Ricciardo finished seventh at Monza at the end of the European leg of the campaign, Nico Hulkenberg's much-improved form in the lead Sauber has seen the Swiss squad rack up 24 points from Italy, Singapore and Korea, drawing the two squads level on 31. Sauber, however, now holds seventh place in the constructors' standings, as Hulkenberg's fourth place from Yeongam last week far exceeds the best result from either STR pilot.
Toto Rosso headed to Korea with high hopes of a return to the points, but the weekend culminated in two late retirements that ensured another scoreless round to follow on from similar disappointment in Singapore.
“First of all, we struggled the whole weekend to find a correct balance,” Vergne told journalists in Japan, “In the end, both cars retired because of brake-ducts being broken [and infiltrating the radiators]. It was probably the issue that we had in the weekend, so we changed many things for this weekend [at Suzuka].”
Although Ricciardo – who leaves for Red Bull at the end of the campaign – has slowly increased his personal points tally, Vergne hasn't scored since finishing a fine sixth in Canada back in June, but the Frenchman remains determined not only to return to the top ten, but also to see off the Sauber threat.
“Obviously, Sauber has done a very good job to catch us back, so now they are just in front in the championship with the same points,” he confirmed, “Now, for us, it is a five-race season, [and] we're pushing like crazy. I believe we've got a good car and, if we put everything in together, we will score some more points. That's definitely our target.”
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