'Best Friday' in ages for Vergne and Ricciardo
11 May 2013
It was all smiles in the Toro Rosso garage at the end of Friday's two free practice sesisons, with both of the team's drivers very happy with the way a raft of new upgrades were bedding in.
Daniel Ricciardo finished with the 11th fastest combined practice time on Friday and he was confident that things were looking good for Toro Rosso in their first European race of the 2013 F1 season.
"Overall, this was a pretty positive day and in the intermediate conditions in the morning, we were always in the top three or so, which looked quite good," he said. "Then, this afternoon we were also alright in the dry.
"I'm sure some of the teams, like McLaren will find more speed for tomorrow, but I think we can too. I expect it to be a close fight with a reasonable chance of getting into the top ten in qualifying and our long runs were also pretty good," he added.
"The best thing today was that the team brought a lot of parts here and, even if they might have looked good in the wind tunnel, it was reassuring to feel an improvement in the car on the track, where it matters," he pointed out. "It's always interesting to test new components and set-ups as you have to change your driving style a bit to deal with them."
Team mate Jean-Eric Vergne was a little over a tenth faster that Ricciardo on Friday, putting him in the top ten times at the end of the day.
"Earlier this week, I said I hoped we could have a positive weekend and that our updates would show signs of improvement," the Frenchman pointed out. "And I have to say this is the best Friday we have had for many, many races.
"It's encouraging, but we still have work to do, analysing the data overnight, to try and improve still further," he continued. "But we are looking in much better shape than in previous races: I am really happy, because everyone at the factory has done a very good job over the past few weeks to prepare for this race and the next ones after that."
Tyre degradation at the Circuit de Catalunya also didn't seem much of a concern to Vergne. "Tyres? All seems fine at the moment," he confirmed.
Toro Rosso's head of vehicle performance Laurent Mekies endorsed his drivers' positive comments on the state of the car heading into the fifth round of the 2013 championship this weekend in Spain.
"So far, we seem to be working in the right direction, making steady progress and we got through everything with an essentially trouble free day," he marvelled. "I feel we found the right compromise between checking the new components and running a good preparation programme for the race.
"The rain this morning didn't help, but of course it's the same for everyone and anyway, it was useful to get a feel for the car in these conditions," he added. "It was a very busy day for us, because we had quite a lot of new parts to evaluate, mainly on the aero side. We distributed the test elements across the two cars."
But the team knows all too well that an upbeat Friday session assures absolutely nothing when it comes to qualifying and the race itself, when everything could change and nothing could be taken for granted.
"It's going to be very tight with the rest of our nearest competitors, with four or five teams within the same two or three tenths," Mekies said. "Hopefully we can be at the front end of that group tomorrow."