Toro Rosso endured a bittersweet 66-lap Spanish Grand Prix, which eventually yielded one point for Daniel Ricciardo in 10th after Jean-Eric Vergne’s bad luck continued as he was forced into retirement after a collision with Nico Hulkenberg in the pits. However, the Italian outfit are remaining positive as they now look ahead to Monaco.
Although the upgrades introduced to the car had a positive affect on the STR8 throughout the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, Toro Rosso were held back somewhat during the 66-lap race after several issues prevented the team from finishing higher up the order. After a poor start plagued by wheel spin, Daniel Ricciardo began to suffer from front grip and brake issues. Eventually these gremlins faded away, allowing the Australian driver to enjoy a relatively competitive race.
Whereas Daniel Ricciardo began to rise through the order as the race progressed, Jean-Eric Vergne’s woeful luck continued to strike the Frenchman. During a pit-stop on Lap 35, Sauber unsafely released Nico Hulkenberg into the path of Jean-Eric Vergne. The two collided, with Hulkenberg suffering front wing damage and the Frenchman suffering from tyre and floor damage on his STR8. After a trip back to the pits for a new set of tyres after his right-rear tyre shredded itself, Toro Rosso elected to retire Jean-Eric Vergne on Lap 54 due to extensive damage to the rear of his car.
This retirement had a knock-on effect to Daniel Ricciardo’s race, as the Toro Rosso mechanics busied themselves with Jean-Eric Vergne’s car as he was forced into retirement. This meant Daniel Ricciardo’s fourth and final pit-stop was delayed, resulting in increased tyre wear and ultimately the inability to battle higher up the order. Despite this minor setback, the team are taking many positives to Monte-Carlo for the next race.
“Unfortunately, Jev’s [Jean-Eric Vergne’s] race was ruined by the contact in pit lane with Hulkenberg’s Sauber.” Explained Toro Rosso’s team principal, Franz Tost. “He had to return to the pits on Lap 38 when it was clear he had a damaged tyre and then in the closing stages, we could see from the data that the damage to the rear of the car was getting worse and we called him in to retire in the pits. This incident had a serious knock-on effect for our other car, as we had to keep Daniel out for one more lap before a pit stop while dealing with Jev and, as his tyres were well worn at this stage it cost him a significant amount of lap time. We must take heart from the improvement in performance terms that we saw on Friday and Saturday and work to get more out of the updates that delivered this step forward.”
This result is Jean-Eric Vergne’s second consecutive retirement, after colliding with Valtteri Bottas and Giedo van der Garde at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Frenchman was extremely content with the upgrades introduced to the Toro Rosso this weekend, and will be praying that his bad luck fades away in time for the Monaco Grand Prix next time out. Should Toro Rosso enjoy another competitive qualifying performance around the streets of Monte-Carlo, then a competitive result could well be in order.
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