Toro Rosso Technical Director James Key has admitted that the team was solely to blame for the Q1 exit of both Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo.
The Faenza based squad had been looking impressive this weekend, with Vergne describing his Friday experience as the best opening day that he has ever had to a Grand Prix weekend.
Despite this encouraging performance, Vergne and Ricciardo will line-up 18th and 19th on the grid for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, following a bizarre Q1 exit, when the teams decision to go out early for a second run on intermediate tyres hurt them as the track continued to yield more and more time.
Key accepted that it was the teams error that had cost both Ricciardo and Vergne the chance to potentially get into Q3 and fight for the top 10 spots on the grid.
“Up until Q1 we had been having a strong weekend, looking competitive in the dry and not too bad in the wet either in FP1”, he said. “Jean-Eric in particular was showing good form and looking forward to qualifying, so we went into Q1 knowing there was a good chance the track would dry out towards the end.
“We timed our final tyre change at a similar moment to others, but somehow we were in the wrong place at the wrong time today: we should have had two cars in Q3, instead they both went out in Q1.
“Should we have switched to slicks? Some of the cars that are usually at the back of the grid took that risk, but in our case, it’s hard to know. As a team, we should apologise to the drivers, work out what went wrong to ensure we don’t do it again and, most importantly, see what we can do to still get the best out of the cars tomorrow.”
Vergne, who had been having a stellar weekend up until qualifying, having got himself into the top five in both FP2 and FP3, was particularly vexed by his early exit from Q3, calling it a “missed opportunity” for the team.
“What happened today is easy to explain, it was just a team mistake”, said the 23-year-old. “These things shouldn’t happen, but everyone gets it wrong now and again.
“It is very frustrating, as the car has been good enough this weekend to qualify really well in either the wet or the dry. Therefore, this was a clear missed opportunity, as I believe I could have been in the top five in the dry and the car was clearly working well in the wet too. “
The Frenchman added that he is doing his best to remain calm about the situation and still remains positive about his chances to score some points tomorrow, despite the lowly starting position.
“It’s going to take me a bit of time to get over the disappointment, but now there is no use getting angry and, in any case, I really believe I can still have a good race tomorrow and score some points. We can learn from this afternoon and ensure we don’t make this mistake again.”
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