Vergne admits mistake cost him Q3 spot

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

Toro Rosso were left with mixed feeling after qualifying today at Abu Dhabi. Daniel Ricciardo showed that the overnight set-up changed payed off by qualifying 10th. Jean-Eric Vergne was set for a similar performance but a mistake on his final run in Q2 left him in 14th.

Daniel Ricciardo, STR8-01, 1:41.111, 10th: “I think making it into Q3 was already a good achievement, after the difficulties I’d experienced getting the car the way I like it on Friday and even for the final practice today. My Q2 lap was a very good one, but not the best, so I came into Q3 feeling I could improve in a few areas. We decided to make a slight adjustment to the front tyre pressures which turned out not to be the right decision, as I then had to work harder to warm the tyres. The lap itself was not too bad, but the time never came. The heat? It’s only a problem once you get out of the car because inside the cockpit you get some airflow and it’s all fine.”

Jean-Eric Vergne, STR8-04, 1:41.279, 14th: “Everything went smoothly in Q1 and also in Q2, I managed to improve my time, even on old tyres and I was heading for a really good time at my last attempt, but I locked the wheels massively going into Turn 8 and that wiped out any advantage I had. It is a real shame because everyone had worked so hard yesterday and last night to give me a really good car, that I was very happy with right from the start of FP3. I have to put my hand up and say I made the mistake. I wanted it too much and tried too hard. On the plus side for tomorrow, I have been on the pace all weekend and the speed is there. So, with a good strategy plan, I am looking forward to the race, when I am sure I can make up for this evening’s disappointment.”

James Key, Technical Director: “After neither driver was happy with the balance of the car on Friday, the team worked very hard overnight to adjust the car for today with the right wing levels. It seemed to have worked as Jev was immediately happy with the car this morning, Daniel less so, which involved a bit more work on his side of the garage before qualifying. After this qualifying, the feelings are a bit mixed, as we believed we could have had two cars in Q3. Unfortunately, Jean-Eric lost a fair bit of time in the middle sector on his final quick lap in Q2, when he just needed the two tenths improvement we could expect from new tyres and, because it was so close, that mistake was enough to keep him out of the top ten. Daniel did a good job to get into Q3, but was unable to repeat his best time from Q2 and so we have ended up further back than we expected. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to be back in Q3 and from what we saw yesterday, our long run pace looked strong, so we can expect Daniel to capitalise on that, as can Jev, who has been very competitive all weekend apart from this evening.”