Toro Rosso: a very positive day for the team

Toro Rosso report from Friday practice at the Mexican Grand Prix, round 18 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Daniil Kvyat (STR14-03, Car 26)
First Practice Session
Best lap: 1:18.835, pos. 9th, 27 laps
Second Practice Session
Best lap: 1:17.747, pos. 6th, 40 laps
“It was a positive Friday. We completed our programme for both the sessions so now we have plenty of data to analyse to be ready for Qualifying and the Race. Today the feeling with the car was good but we need to keep on working to understand the track better and maximize our performance for the rest of the weekend.”

Pierre Gasly (STR14-04, Car 10)
First Practice Session
Best lap: 1:18.593, pos. 8th, 23 laps
Second Practice Session
Best lap: 1:18.003, pos. 7th, 39 laps
“It was a really good Friday! From the very beginning I felt pretty comfortable in the car and I think we made quite a step from FP1 to FP2, especially on the Medium tyres where we were fast throughout the whole session. Unfortunately, we were not able to improve on the Softs because of small driveability issues, but we know that the pace is there and I’m confident we still have margin for improvement. Overall, it looks really promising here and we’ll work hard tonight to keep the pace and show an even better performance tomorrow.”

Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer):
“The altitude of the Mexican circuit and the lack of air put a huge strain on the cooling of the car, so we brought a number of new parts here to cope with these particular conditions and they seemed to perform well. The track started damp after the overnight rain so the run on dry tyres in the first 40 mins was difficult for the drivers, compounded by the lack of downforce from the low ambient pressure. We had a few aero and mechanical tests planned for FP1 but, due to the long red flag for barrier repairs at the last corner, we didn’t get to complete the entire plan. Instead, we focused on giving the drivers as many laps as possible and tuning the balance of the cars. The Prime tyre performed well in those track conditions, while we could see the Option graining heavily on other cars. Low speed rear support was the main issue, so we made a number of changes for FP2 to address this limitation. The changes worked well and both drivers felt confident with the car, which was reflected in the lap times. There is still more to come on the short run – the balance was a good improvement over FP1, but it was still not perfect. Graining was the main limitation on the long runs and it was evident on all three compounds. There is a lot for us to look at tonight in order to decide what’s the best strategy for the Race. In summary, it was a very positive day for the team – operationally everything was smooth and the performance is maybe higher than we expected, so we will aim to maintain this level forwards to Quali and the Race.”

Toyoharu Tanabe (Honda F1 Technical Director):
“In today’s two sessions, we focussed on settings based on the fact this circuit is at high altitude. Overall, things went smoothly on the PU side but there is still some fine tuning needed to be at our best, so we will work on that overnight. Although it’s only Friday, it’s encouraging to see all four cars in the top ten in FP1 and three of them in excellent positions in FP2. We hope to keep this momentum going over the next two days.”