Toro Rosso: The car is now far more driveable for both drivers

Nov.3 (Toro Rosso) Team and drivers report on qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Round 18 of the 2012 Formula One World Championship, at Yas Marina Circuit.

Daniel Ricciardo (STR7-04):
Third Practice Session Best lap 1:44.149, pos. 18th, 19 laps
Qualifying Best lap: (Q1) 1:43.280, (Q2) 1:42.765, pos. 17th
“So far, it’s been a harder weekend for us than we had expected. We definitely made progress today, compared to where we were on Friday, which is positive, but in the end it was not enough to move us higher up the grid. Everything went smoothly on my side of the garage, apart from losing a lap on the Prime, when my headrest was moving and I had to come in to have it fixed. I think this motivated me to then do two really good laps and the pace on the Option was okay, showing we had made progress again, not just from yesterday, but also from this morning. However, we are not where we want to be. Strategy will be a key to having a good race tomorrow and like in India a one stop could be possible for some cars.”

Jean-Eric Vergne (STR7-01):
Third Practice Session Best lap: 1:44.025, pos. 16th, 18 laps
Qualifying Best lap: (Q1) 1:44.058, pos. 18th
“It’s quite frustrating to fail to make it to Q2 today. We have been struggling all weekend with understeer and we are still trying to do our maximum and I was pushing a lot. We really only had one lap to see where the balance was this afternoon and the car seemed to be going the other way towards oversteer and I made a mistake. That doesn’t mean I will have to fight the car all the time tomorrow, because there are still things we can do like playing with the front flap and tyre pressures to improve the situation for the race but it’s going to be a tough night tomorrow.”

James Key (Technical Director):“We had a troublesome Friday, struggling with the balance on both cars, so the team did a good job to come with some changes that produced an improvement in today’s Free Practice. We moved in a stronger direction and the balance of the car is now far more driveable for both drivers. However, we really only had the three runs this morning so maybe there were further steps we could have taken if we’d had more runs. I think the outcome of qualifying was unfortunate for us: in Q1, Jean-Eric’s lap was looking pretty good and he was on course to get to Q2, but he spun at Turn 20 and we will have to work out why. That effectively ended his session as he was on his new set of Softs at the time. Daniel made it to Q2, but we lacked a bit in the first corner and then in sector 3, which is downforce dominated. From what we saw on Friday our long run pace was not too bad and the balance of the cars is certainly biased towards a race configuration. The tyre situation is a big unknown and so there could be some interesting calls in terms of strategy on Sunday. Therefore we will be trying to play that card correctly.”