A tough Friday practice for Daniel Ricciardo hasn’t deterred the young Australian driver from doing everything he can to unearth some gains from a Toro Rosso that has experienced a wobbly performance curve throughout 2013. Daniel spoke candidly on Friday evening about the issues surrounding the STR8 and what the Faenza team is doing to turn their season around again.
Both Jean-Eric and Daniel struggled in practice sessions one and two, mired down in fifteenth and sixteenth positions respectively. While the gap to Sauber wasn’t huge, the next opposition in the form of McLaren were half a second out of reach and starting once again behind the eight-ball was becoming a frustration for the team.
“Unfortunately a pretty typical Friday for us” said Daniel. We haven’t had many where we’ve been happy. We always tend to make work for ourselves and repair it on Saturday. Even Jean-Eric isn’t that much far in front as well so he’s not happy, so we’ve got some work to do for now.”
With the track improving slowly over the weekend, the chance to regain some ground certainly wasn’t a sure thing in Ricciardo’s eyes and was keen to redress the performance gap sooner rather than later.
“We’re hoping it’ll come to us, but we’re still that far off that we’re really having to chase something as well” Ricciardo explained.. Not having any real support categories here either isn’t going to help the track evolve that much, so I think we’re going to have to do a bit more chasing.”
Compared to last year’s car, the Toro Rosso has improved a measureably by mid-year. When questioned if there was anything the team could pin-point to the recent drop in performances Daniel believed Toro Rosso was experiencing a similar dilemma as McLaren in terms of dealing with a small performance window through experimentation.
“Not everything has always made sense. The pace for example at Silverstone was really strong. We didn’t expect to be that quick and we haven’t really had that raw speed since” explained Daniel. “There’s a few mechanical things on the car this year that James (Key) and the guys brought onto the car that have been quite complex and we’re still pretty optimistic about getting them all to work as they should. We’re aiming high and when you don’t get it right you pay a bit of a price.”
In winter testing at Jerez the Toro Rosso was quite a way off the pace and Daniel believed a change in testing venues at Bahrain should help all the teams in terms of gathering usable data come the start of the 2014 season.
“I was saying to a few guys today that winter testing was pretty miserable for us. We weren’t quick at all and didn’t really understand much. The temperatures were cold and nothing was really happening the right way for a lot of people. I was very keen to go testing in hotter climates. It’s got to be more representative. I honestly could’ve not gone Winter testing this year and been in the same shape as we were in Melbourne. We could’ve even been in better shape because it just confused us. It (testing in the Middle East) should definitely help.”
While obviously overjoyed at the prospect of comparing himself to a three (possibly four) time World Champion in a front-running car this year, Daniel was still slightly sad to be leaving the Faenza outfit that has been such a srong influence on his career thus far.
“Obviously I’m excited about what’s to come, but I think I will be a bit sad. In my career I’ve always become quite close with the team I race for” said Daniel. “You have to develop a relationship with the team and on a personal level with the guys and girls as well. We’re not always talking about racing together. There’s very much a family orientated feel with Toro Rosso, which is probably the Italian influence. But I’m only moving next door so I’ll still see them.”
Images courtesy of RichlandF1 and Octane Photographic