It was a turnaround in fortune for Toro Rosso in qualifying, having struggled on Friday afternoon at Monza, the team bounced back as both Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne made it into Q3 and the top 10 on the grid for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
Toro Rosso had been left lamenting a step in the wrong direction on Friday afternoon, which had caused both drivers to complain of balance issues, but following changes made in the final free practice session of the weekend on Saturday morning, the Faenza-based-squads driver pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne suddenly came alive in qualifying, easily progressing to Q3 on merit as others fell by the wayside.
Daniel Ricciardo was pleased to be back in the top 10 after a disastrous qualifying session in Spa, but the Australian couldn’t hide his disappointment at the fact that he felt he could have gone even better than 7th had it not been for a minor mistake at the second chicane on his quick lap.
“It’s nice to be back in Q3. Maybe at the end, a top five finish might have been on the cards” he said. “However, we missed a little something in Q3, doing a two lap run, and with hindsight, maybe a one lap run with a lighter fuel load would have been better, but I am still happy with seventh.
“I dropped a wheel in the gravel at the second chicane which might have cost me some time. To have both cars in the top 10 on merit on a dry track is a very good result.”
The 24-year-old has not dismissed the possibility of a wet race on Sunday, but is positive that his Toro Rosso team will be fighting for points whatever the weather come race day.
“A wet or dry race? I am not too fussed, because I’m sure that if it does rain we will look pretty handy, and we are not too bad in the dry either. But for the fans, let’s hope for a dry race. It’s great driving here, because the crowd is so passionate about motor racing, even if most of them cheer for the red cars! The atmosphere is fantastic and, as an Italian team, I hope we can come away with some good points tomorrow.”
Jean-Eric Vergne in the sister Toro Rosso had an equally impressive session, topping the timesheets for a long period of Q2, before a mistake at the Parabolica in the dying moments of Q3 spoilt his quicklap, confining him to 10th on the grid.
The Frenchman was full of praise for his Toro Rosso team, applauding the remarkable turn-around which they had achieved in just one day and like his team-mate expects a good haul of points on Sunday, be it wet or dry.
“I have to thank the team for doing a great job to give me such a competitive car for this afternoon”, said the 23-year-old. “We were not looking so good yesterday and all their efforts last night have paid off today in FP3 and qualifying.
“I pushed to the limit on my final run in Q3 and just got out of shape, going off into the gravel at the Parabolica corner. It’s a shame, but I am pleased with P10. There is a big risk of rain tomorrow which could make life interesting, but clearly starting 10th, a significant number of points must be our target and it’s a realistic one.”
Toro Rosso Technical Director, James Key, added his applause for a job well done by the whole of the Faenza-based team as they celebrate their home Grand Prix, in particular praising the disciplined approach that his drivers took to drawing the maximum from their tyres.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic