26 October 2013
Indian Grand Prix: Toro Rosso ‘genuine contenders in big midfield’
Neither Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne made it through to Q3 in India, but Toro Rosso believes either can still fight for points.
Despite missing out on a spot in the top ten shoot-out at the Indian Grand Prix, Scuderia Toro Rosso believes that it retains a shot at the points on raceday.
The Italian squad came up just six-hundredths short of getting Daniel Ricciardo into the final phase of qualifying, but the midfield group was so closely matched that even that small margin meant the difference between relative success and failure.
“It was a super-tight qualifying, after it was already clear from yesterday that you had ten cars virtually tied together on lap time,” Laurent Mekies, the team's head of vehicle performance, commented, “We have ended up P11 with Daniel, half a tenth from making it into Q3. It is very close and both our drivers did a good job this afternoon, as 'Jev' is only a couple of tenths down on his team-mate, but three places behind him.
“I think we have recovered some pace today and are genuine contenders in that very big midfield. We will have a very tough fight tomorrow, as you can expect if you have ten cars within three-tenths.”
Ricciardo was particularly frustrated at missing out on tenth place in Q2, having lost vital time on Friday that left him playing catch-up through FP3. Focusing on race pace meant that the Australian went into qualifying with precious little experience of the set-up, but still came agonisingly close to deposing Jenson Button's McLaren.
“When I crossed the line, my engineer came on the radio and told me I was currently P9 and I thought this could be good – but, a few corners later, I had dropped to P11,” Ricciardo sighed, “I was a bit disappointed, even if I think I probably got the most out of it.
“We had a pretty intense morning after I went off and damaged the car on Friday, which meant I didn't do a long run. We tried to do that today and, as a result, we had to neglect our short run work a little bit. All the same, we did a good job in qualifying and, being eleventh, I get a free tyre choice for the start, although I know some of the top ten opted to do their final runs on the prime.”
Team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne admitted to a small mistake that may have cost him vital tenths, even though he remained unconvinced that he could have broken the top ten in Q2.
“I can be reasonably pleased with my fastest lap, as it was pretty clean, even if I lost a little bit of time on a kerb,” he noted, “It's very close in our part of the field and we did a good job overnight and this morning to improve the car - there's only a few tenths between a whole group of us.
“I think, tomorrow, in the race, with the option tyre not lasting very long, there are plenty of choices we can make relating to strategy and I feel confident we can fight for a points position finish.”
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