On a weekend when speculation about Daniel Ricciardo’s future was once again rife in the Formula One paddock, the Australian impressed at Spa with a gutsy drive into the points, bouncing back from what had been a disastrous qualifying session for him and his Toro Rosso team.
It was an inspiring display by Ricciardo during the race, as he guided his STR8 from a lowly 19th on the grid to 10th and the final points paying position by the time the chequered flag fell at Spa.
The Australian was elated to have picked up a point, his and Toro Rosso’s first since the British Grand Prix and explained that he was impressed by the overall pace of the car and the way it handled the option tyre in his second and third stints, having found progress difficult initially on the harder compound Pirelli’s.
“It was nice to get that point! We ran a long first stint on the Hards and I think that helped us build a good base to have a strong pace in the final stints on the Medium”said the 23-year-old. “I felt much more comfortable on the Option tyre and that’s when my race really started.
“With the last set of tyres I was knocking out maybe ten or so qualifying laps and managed to pick off some cars in front to bring home that crucial point. We knew we had to move on from yesterday. I had said that starting where we were, getting in the points would be good, so I’m happy with that and with the pace we showed while fighting to get there.”
Ricciardo’s team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne, who finished in 12th, just outside of the points, was left wondering what might have been possible at Spa, if not for his teams qualifying blunder and then a slow puncture during his final stint of the race.
“I think we could have done a bit better than this twelfth place, because my pace was good until the final stint when I had a slow puncture almost right from the start of it, which meant my performance dropped off”, said the Frenchman. “I managed to get past Hulkenberg with an exciting move, but I could not close to Perez ahead of me and then my team-mate Daniel came up behind me on new tyres. It was hard for me to be competitive therefore in the final stint.
“A bit of a weekend to forget as it could have ended so much better, if we had not made a mistake in qualifying, but at least when things were going well it seems that our car has picked up some speed that was lacking just before the break.”
Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost added that although Sunday’s result had not lived up to the weekend’s early expectations, the impressive pace shown by Ricciardo and Vergne during the race gave him a positive outlook for the rest of the season.
“The most positive aspect of today’s performance is that our pace seems to be back at the relative level we had earlier this season. We are now looking forward to a competitive performance in our home race in Monza.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic