There was disappointment all round at Toro Rosso, after what hinted at being a promising race for the team in Abu Dhabi fell apart, first through a poor start for Daniel Ricciardo, followed by a misguided tyre strategy for Jean-Eric Vergne.
Having impressed on Saturday by managing to make it into Q3, Ricciardo, who was promoted to ninth on the grid following Kimi Raikkonen’s exclusion from qualifying, saw his race fall apart right from the moment the lights went out, as a poor getaway saw him tumble down to 17th.
As the Australian explained, any chance of points from that point onwards was always going to be an uphill struggle.
“This was not at all the race I was hoping for”, said the 24-year-old. “In this sport, if the start doesn’t go well, it’s hard to recover, so I want to look at the data to understand what happened.
“The car didn’t get off the line well and then, at Turn 1 there was a bit of chaos as I dropped back into the group behind me. I had to run wide to avoid some accidents and from then on, my race was pretty much over.
“At the moment, our pace is not sufficient to fight back into the top ten if something like this happens. We must see what we can do to have better starts, because when we get good ones, we have generally gone on to score points.
Jean-Eric Vergne in the sister Toro Rosso STR8 ran as high as seventh during the middle period of the race, as he attempted to pull off a single stop strategy, but the Frenchman had taken too much life out of his tyres and finding himself slipping down the order, he headed into the pits with just a few laps remaining, which dropped him to 17th, one place behind his team-mate.
“This is a very disappointing result”, said the 23-year-old. “To sum it up, going for a one stop strategy was the right decision, but we made the change from Soft to Medium a little bit too early, so there was no life in the tyres towards the end, just as all that group of cars came up behind me.
“The original plan was for a two stop, but looking at how the race was developing, we decided to take this gamble, but it didn’t pay off. I tried all I could to keep the tyres alive, but it was not enough. A shame, as I was in the points for most of the race, especially as the car felt good and I was running at a strong pace.
“It seems that luck is just not on my side this season, as it’s not the first time I’ve been having a good race until circumstances have worked against me.
Vergne, who found himself involved in an incident with Fernando Alonso late in the race, in which it appeared the Spaniard had overtaken the Toro Rosso man by abusing the track limits, was magnanimous about the situation, stating that regardless of leaving the track or not, the Ferrari would have eventually passed him anyway.
“The incident with Alonso? For a while now, if a driver puts a wheel outside the track when overtaking he gets a penalty and he had four wheels outside the line. In any case, he would have passed me down the next straight as I was struggling with my tyres by then.”
Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost added that the outcome on Sunday was particularly disappointing, as the team, which receives firm support from Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company and which carried a special message to the people of the Emirates this weekend on their rear-wing endplates, had wanted to deliver a strong performance around Yas Marina.
Image courtesy of Pirelli Media