There are mixed emotions within the Toro Rosso camp after the opening two practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Jean-Eric Vergne seemingly happy with the handling of the car in stark contrast to team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. The future Red Bull driver struggled with the balance of his STR8.
Despite failing to finish within the points since the Canadian Grand Prix earlier in the year, Jean-Eric Vergne enjoyed what he described as a productive opening day to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend around the Yas Marina Circuit. Unlike his Australian team-mate, 23-year-old Jean-Eric Vergne explained how his Ferrari-powered STR8 was working well with decent overall performance. The Frenchman finished the two practice sessions 16th and 17th respectively, but felt content behind the wheel of his car despite finishing towards the rear of the order.
During the second practice session Jean-Eric Vergne joined the entire field in running Pirelli’s soft tyre compound, which proved troublesome last time out in India. Unlike the heavy tyre degradation which plagued almost the entire field last weekend, both Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo unanimously agreed that the tyres in question were behaving much better around the Yas Marina Circuit. Jean-Eric Vergne in particular is optimistic ahead of the remainder of the weekend, with his mechanics set to carry out minor alterations overnight.
“If we ignore the lap times, I think this was a reasonably productive day.” Explained Jean-Eric Vergne, “Our overall performance is good and I felt the car was working well. It’s true we need to find a bit more lap time for tomorrow, but I am fairly confident. We just need to work well overnight to iron out the small details that were not quite right today and I believe we can then run competitively. As for the tyres, I did a long run on the soft tyre and it definitely works much better and lasts longer with better degradation than we saw in India a few days ago. So, everyone should be able to make better use of it in the race on Sunday.”
In stark contrast to his team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo endured a frustrating start to his Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend. Whereas the Frenchman was satisfied with the handling and performance of his STR8, Daniel Ricciardo struggled throughout both practice sessions as he strove to find the right balance. Although the Australian ace has stated it was difficult to understand what as wrong with the car, he is confident that the team will be able to improve his car in preparation for the all-important qualifying session under the Abu Dhabi floodlights.
“Our first day in Abu Dhabi was not the best, as we struggled to find the right balance on the car.” Admitted Daniel Ricciardo, “Leaving lap times aside, it was quite difficult to understand exactly what was going on with the car underneath us. That makes life harder, as it robs you of confidence. However, we did make some progress between the morning and the afternoon, but there is still much more to do. I think we understand what we need to achieve, so some effective work this evening with the engineers figuring it out will see us do much better tomorrow. The Soft tyre seemed to behave much better here than in India, which is what you’d expect, even if I didn’t do so many laps on it with a high fuel load.”
Although Toro Rosso currently sit only 13 points behind Sauber in the Constructors’ Championship, the Swiss outfit’s recent run of form will most likely see them remain out of reach for Toro Rosso. Regardless of their position in the Constructors’ Championship, Jean-Eric Vergne is only sat six points behind his team-mate in the Drivers’ Championship. With the Australian ace on his way to Red Bull for 2014, the Frenchman would undoubtedly take great delight in catching him during the final three races of the season.
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