While the Bahrain Grand Prix was a race to forget, Jean-Eric Vergne reckons that his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo's qualifying performance and his own race pace mean there’s a good weekend coming soon for Toro Rosso.
It’s been a few days now since the Bahrain Grand Prix and with a bit of time to reflect on the weekend, there’s plenty to take from the weekend beyond the frustration of a race that didn’t go according to plan for the team, or for me.
Obviously, Daniel had a pretty tough time in the race and that was disappointing for him, but for me I think the weekend was undone by qualifying. I think I lost two seconds somewhere between FP3 and qualifying, which is not normal as everyone else seemed to improve, so I need to understand what happened there and learn from that.
Ultimately, the qualifying position compromised my race. I lost quite a bit of time in the first stint and then I had a contact with Pastor Maldonado later in the race, which didn’t help either. All in all, it was a race to forget, I think.
Having said that though, you need to look through everything that happened and try to find the positives in it, and while it was disappointing, there are things we can take from the weekend that will help in the future.
The simple fact is that the pace is undoubtedly there. Daniel showed that with his pace in qualifying and I showed it in the race, where I came away with the fourth quickest lap of the afternoon, I think. That shows that we have the capability to do good races and we just need to understand how to put it all together across the whole weekend.
'There are things we can take that will help us in the future'
So, while I was obviously pretty disappointed with how things went on Saturday, I know that it’s only the fourth race of the year and there are plenty more race weekends to come. Also, I’m new to Formula One and it isn’t easy. I always knew there would be difficulties but, as I said, you have to put those to one side, analyse the information that comes out of those races and learn what you can from them.
So I’ll take the positives of what we did in Bahrain – good race pace for me and good qualifying pace for Daniel – and try to feed all that into the next race in Barcelona.
Of course, before that we have a week off and then the test in Mugello. Before then, I will visit my family for my birthday on the 25th, go see some friends and maybe do a little bit of karting at the family track.
After that, it will be the test. I’m looking forward to this as it’s the first in-season test in F1 for some time and also because I’ve never driven at Mugello. I’m told it’s quite a tricky circuit, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m driving on the first day and in the morning session of day two and then Daniel will take over.
We have plenty of work to get through. Testing always comes with a pretty intense workload and I think this one will be even more so. We’ll have three big days in Italy and they’ll be really important for us going forward. The first test of whether we do find a way forward will come in Barcelona, so we have to work hard at the test and try to learn a lot.
As for the Spanish Grand Prix, it’s funny but people always ask if you will do better at a circuit like this because you know it so well from other series and from pre-season testing. But, for me, it’s not like this. I think I get on the pace pretty quickly at any circuit so while having had experience of Barcelona may make it a little more comfortable, it really isn’t the big advantage people think it is.
Instead, I know I’ll just go there trying to be as positive as possible. As I said earlier, we know the pace is in the car. Now we just need to unlock it. I always do good races, so if I can start from a bit closer to the front then I think we can have a good weekend. Once qualifying improves, I will have good races.