Visa RB leaves home race with frustration

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Emilia Romagna, Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrariit

The Visa RB team leaves the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with mixed feelings after the Italian outfit was only able to collect a single points despite the encouraging qualifying positions.

Surprising the top drivers in qualifying, Yuki Tsunoda secured a seventh starting position on the grid for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Despite the promising slot on the grid, the Japanese endured a dismal start, losing two positions to Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg.

The Faenza-based outfit called in Tsunoda quite early for his first stop to undercut Hulkenberg which he successfully executed, albeit he was then forced to manage his tyres on his second very long stint. With pitting early, he could not hold up a charging Lance Stroll, who pitted much later and had much fresher tyres for his long second stint.

“At the end of the day, I’m happy I scored a point in front of our home crowd and people who came from the factory. I think our start slightly compromised our race because we lost a couple of positions to Nico (Hulkenberg).

"He was fast on the straights, so we didn’t want to end up behind him which is why we pitted before him and earlier than planned. It was the crucial moment of the race, and I think we managed the strategy well and responded correctly to Nico. It meant we had to go long in our second stint and managing the hard tyre for the last 15 laps was challenging, but well done to the team for managing, that’s positive. The start is the main topic that we need to improve on.

"We’re working hard to take another step forward and we’ll focus on extracting the maximum out of our package. Monaco is up next and I’m looking forward to it. We’ve been working hard and performing well, and I don’t have a doubt that we will maximise our performance.”

His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo secured his first Q3 appearance on Saturday, but he was unable to score points on Sunday with his early stop turning out to be a suboptimal strategy.

Having finished the race in P13, the Australian said: “I don’t think anything went wrong with the start procedure, I felt like I did everything right, but unfortunately, losing that starting place did cost us the points in the race. We’ll figure it out as a team, just because there’s a bit of a lack of consistency there and we immediately dropped out of the points.

"Then during the race we were in a train of cars, and being there with the dirty air, it’s a weakness at the moment for us. We’ll keep looking at it. I think with the clean air our pace was okay and I was doing decent times, but as soon as we got in some traffic we felt like we struggled more. That midfield we’re in it’s all about small details. We work hard for the qualifying position, so it’s important to be able to consolidate it at the start of the race.

"I think that if both Yuki and I stayed in front of Nico (Hulkenberg) at the start, we could’ve managed to stay there for the whole race, get on a little bit better with the pack and our race would have looked different. Let's reset now, it’s been a couple of years now that I’m missing Monaco, so I’m looking ahead and I’m excited to go back there next week.”

Speaking of the strategy, technical director Jody Egginton said: “It’s nice to come away with a point from Yuki but there’s also a slight feeling of frustration as we had the pace to possibly be further up the road at the end of the race.

"However, we lost places with both cars off the start and that pushed us into making an earlier-than-planned stop to try and recover, meaning we had to go longer than we wanted on the second set of tyres. That opened up the opportunity for Stroll to go long with less traffic and he took good advantage of this."

Team boss Laurent Mekies took delight from the qualifying pace of his team which he labelled as a confirmation of the upgrade package Visa RB introduced in Miami.

"Our qualifying performance proves that the upgrades we implemented in Miami are definitely bringing us performance to go on fighting for sixth position in the Championship. And now we carry that momentum forward to face the unique challenge of Monaco. Daniel has been on the podium there no fewer than four times, including a win, and Yuki is currently in great form, so we will be pushing for another strong performance from the whole team," said Mekies.