Toro Rosso were left lamenting after a disappointing qualifying performance around the Korea International Circuit, which saw both Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne eliminated from proceedings in Q2. The Faenza-based outfit were highly unsatisfied, and understand that the possibility of points will be a tall order during the 55-lap race.
With the gap between the top ten and those eliminated from proceedings only several one-hundredths of a second, frustrations understandably ran high within the Toro Rosso camp after both drivers were unable to progress to the top ten shootout, the first time at least one driver had failed to do so since the Belgian Grand Prix back in August. With the season steadily drawing to a conclusion amid the final flyaway races, Toro Rosso will unquestionably be aiming to remain ahead of Sauber in the Constructors’ Championship. With both Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez qualifying within the top ten, the battle within the midfield is far from over.
Despite the inviting prospect of two DRS overtaking zones and a wide circuit at Yeongam, Jean-Eric Vergne in particular is unsure as to whether the team will be able to rise from the increasingly competitive midfield to snatch several valuable points during the race. Although both drivers will have the luxury of an extra set of new super-soft tyres, it’s clear that tomorrow’s 55-lap race will be a tough ordeal for both Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, the former of which was highly dispirited after missing out on progressing to the top ten shootout.
“I’m definitely not happy with my position and when the gap to the top ten is so small, you have to also be disappointed.” Explained Daniel Ricciardo, who has qualified 9th and 7th for the last two races. “I would have liked to have been in the car for the full hour. However, compared to where we were yesterday, we have managed to improve the car, but we have not been able to make enough progress to be more competitive than this. Now we have to look towards the race and maybe the only bright side of not getting into Q3 is that we have one more fresh set of the super-soft tyres. Hopefully we can make good use of it and then we will see if we have enough pace to go looking for points.”
Although Daniel Ricciardo is remaining optimistic on his chances of points for tomorrow’s race, team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne thinks otherwise and that he will struggle to finish within the points. With Daniel Ricciardo already confirmed at Red Bull for next season alongside reigning Champion Sebastian Vettel, Jean-Eric Vergne’s future remains unclear and therefore only adds to his desperate need for competitive results. So far the Frenchman has only finished in the points on three occasions this season, and hasn’t progressed to the top ten shootout since the Canadian Grand Prix back in June.
“Since yesterday, we have struggled to set up the car the way we wanted, but hard work from the team meant that, this afternoon, at least the car was the best it has been so far this weekend.” Said Jean-Eric Vergne, “However, as the other teams also make progress, the improvement on our car for this afternoon was not enough to move us up the order. As for the race, we should be able to start each stint on new tyres and that could make some difference. I am usually optimistic, but I think points will be a difficult target tomorrow. I will give it my best shot and see if I can claw my way back up towards the top ten.”
Should Sauber continue with their competitive performances of late, Toro Rosso could find themselves falling into the clutches of the Swiss outfit as they currently sit only 12 points ahead of them in the Constructors’ Championship. With the battle at the sharp-end of the order seemingly over with Red Bull illustrious once again, the battle towards the midfield and rear of the order still rages on as the season draws to a frenetic conclusion.
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