Toro Rosso fails to get tyres right in qualifying

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit de Spa-Francorchampsbe

Both Toro Rosso drivers lamented a team mistake that blew a change for a really strong qualifying. The cars were on worn intermediates when the track was at its fastest, hence not giving them any chance to qualify higher than 18th and 19th.

Jean-Eric Vergne, STR8-03, 18th: “What happened today is easy to explain, it was just a team mistake. These things shouldn’t happen, but everyone gets it wrong now and again. It is very frustrating, as the car has been good enough this weekend to qualify really well in either the wet or the dry. As soon as I left the pits for the second time, I knew I was in trouble and I also had a bit of trouble with traffic, with some cars on slicks around me. Therefore, this was a clear missed opportunity, as I believe I could have been in the top five in the dry and the car was clearly working well in the wet too. It’s going to take me a bit of time to get over the disappointment, but now there is no use getting angry and, in any case, I really believe I can still have a good race tomorrow and score some points. We can learn from this afternoon and ensure we don’t make this mistake again.”

Daniel Ricciardo, STR8-01, 19th: “That was down to bad timing more than anything else. We went out at the very start of the session and that went fine, with a wet track and the chance of it getting a bit wetter before drying out later. I believe we should have waited a bit longer before fitting the second set of Intermediates. We went out too early for that second run and by the second lap, the tyres were already worn and that was when the track conditions were at their best. Obviously, it’s very frustrating, but now all we can do is put it behind us and concentrate on tomorrow. We have to learn from this and make sure we get it right next time.”

James Key, Technical director: “Up until Q1 we had been having a strong weekend, looking competitive in the dry and not too bad in the wet either in FP1. Jean-Eric in particular was showing good form and looking forward to qualifying, so we went into Q1 knowing there was a good chance the track would dry out towards the end. We timed our final tyre change at a similar moment to others, but somehow we were in the wrong place at the wrong time today: we should have had two cars in Q3, instead they both went out in Q1. Should we have switched to slicks? Some of the cars that are usually at the back of the grid took that risk, but in our case, it’s hard to know. As a team, we should apologise to the drivers, work out what went wrong to ensure we don’t do it again and, most importantly, see what we can do to still get the best out of the cars tomorrow.”