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Toro Rosso 'missed an opportunity' in Melbourne

17 March 2013

Toro Rosso had looked in line for a strong start to the 2013 F1 world championship, with Jean-Eric Vergne running strongly in the top ten for much of the race only to drop to 12th place and out of the points toward the end of the 58-lap Australian Grand Prix.

Team principal Franz Tost explained that the team's problems had stemmed from not delivering to their potential in the delayed qualifying session held earlier on Sunday morning six hours before the start of the race itself.

"We missed an opportunity to qualify better this morning, when we did not choose the best tyre strategy," Tost conceded. "Jean-Eric drove hard to try and get in the points, but was unable to do so. This performance does not reflect our true potential and we must do better, starting in a few day's time in Sepang."

Vergne was taking a more positive view of his achievements in Albert Park, Melbourne.

"Overall, I think the weekend showed we have a good car with which we ought to be able to go hunting for points in every race," said the Frenchman. "So I'm disappointed at not scoring here, but my hopes for the coming races are now higher than when we first started this weekend."

Vergne certainly hadn't lacked for incident during the race, that's for sure.

"It was a hot start, I was pushed to the outside and I ended up going through a gravel trap at one point," he said. "The first stint on the Option was only average, but the last two sections on the Prime tyre were very good and competitive and I was even in the points for a couple of corners right at the end."

However, he'd lost positions in the closing stages of the race and dropped out of contention for world championship points, despite his best efforts.

"As I passed Grosjean I flat-spotted my two front tyres and overshot my braking point when I tried to chase Button," he explained, before adding: "I think that fundamentally, we have a good car."

That will come as good news to his team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who managed only two thirds of his home grand Prix before being sidelined by a broken exhaust.

"In the end I had to retire with a problem linked to the exhaust," he confirmed. "I reported back to the pit wall that I could hear strange noises and I tried to fix it by changing a few functions, but it was not to be."

Even before that, Ricciardo hadn't featured as strongly as his team mate, and Franz Tost explained why that was the case.

"When we did not choose the best tyre strategy and this afternoon, Daniel struggled to find any grip in the early stages and was then forced to retire with a reliability problem," said the team principal.

"It felt like I was driving on ice,' Ricciardo said of those tricky first laps. "It took a very long time to warm up the tyres. Afterwards, after about ten laps, I got up to speed and my lap times were not too bad, but by then I had lost too much time in the early stages. I think we have more homework to do when it comes to the tyres," he added.

"Not the ending I wanted for the first Grand Prix of the season, especially here in my home race," sighed Ricciardo, who was already looking forward to next week's race in Malaysia for better fortunes.


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