Daniel Ricciardo impressed for Toro Rosso as qualified eight fastest for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Ricciardo, who is still in consideration to fill Mark Webber’s vacant seat at Red Bull for 2014, made it into the top 10 in qualifying for the fourth consecutive race weekend, a run that stretches back to the Canadian Grand Prix.
Ricciardo was pleased to see that changes made to his STR8 overnight meant he could challenge for the top 10, a surprise after struggling on Friday.
“It was good to get into Q3 again,” he said. “We seem to make a habit of finding a little bit extra for qualifying, although ideally, I’d like to be on the pace right from Friday and chip away at the lap times within the top ten. We made some set-up changes overnight and they seem to have worked, although we had a bit of work to do to get to Q3 today.
“I think we got the most out of the car this afternoon. I was happy with the way I drove and I am pleased with my form at the moment. But now comes the bit of the weekend that counts and we will try to get it right, beginning with making a good start.
“I am not too concerned about starting on the ‘dirty’ side of the grid and with all the various support races before the Grand Prix, I am sure it will be fine.”
Jean-Eric Vergne was surprised at just how far off he was from his Toro Rosso team-mate, as he could only manage 14th on the grid with a time of 1.21.029, half a second down on the Australian’s effort in Q2.
“I’m not really sure how I ended up several tenths slower than my team-mate in Q2, so I am keen to see what we can learn from the data,” Vergne said. “We did not have too many actual problems, apart from the fact that since Friday I appear to lack downforce on my car.
“Tomorrow will be very difficult in these conditions, especially for the Soft tyres and so, getting the strategy right will make all the difference.
“The car has improved since Friday, so given all the uncertainties we can face tomorrow, I am still in a reasonably optimistic frame of mind and hope to get myself into a position where I can fight for some points.”
The Frenchman also dismissed any notion that he was distracted by talk regarding his future, as his hopes of claiming the vacant Red Bull seat for 2014 seem to have ended.
“My state of mind with all the paddock gossip? It has absolutely no effect on what I have to do this weekend.”
Toro Rosso technical director James Key was pleased with the teams turnaround in qualifying, after what was a difficult Friday for the Faenza-based squad as it struggled to come to grips with a number of new updates.
“It’s great to get a fifth consecutive Q3 result, dating back to Jean-Eric’s tenth place in Monaco,” said Key. “We have a lot of new aero parts here which needed validating and we worked on that very hard overnight.
“Despite a difficult Friday, we realised looking at the data, that they were working pretty much as planned, so everything we brought has stayed on the car. We looked carefully at where we most needed to improve.
“Part of the reason we struggled on the first day is that we need to tune the car to suit the new tyres. Everyone did a great job to find a new direction for the drivers for this morning and both of them were much happier with the balance of the car today.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic