Toro Rosso

Best qualifying of the season so far


“Why do we fall down? So we can pick ourselves up and start again.” Wise words from our philosopher-technical director, Giorgio Ascanelli, at the end of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, after Daniel Ricciardo posted the sixth-fastest time. It means our Aussie driver will start from the third row of the grid, the highest position for a Scuderia Toro Rosso car since Jaime Alguersuari secured the same grid position at last year’s Belgian GP.

We certainly came from a long way back after a difficult time at the last race and, even if in the end it’s mainly up to the driver to haul his race car round the track as fast as possible, this result owed a great deal to all the clever ideas from our engineers and the sweat and effort of the mechanics who turned those ideas into reality. However, the satisfaction of seeing our car at the front end is tempered by the fact that Jean-Eric Vergne had a difficult and short afternoon, qualifying 19th and failing to get past Q1. In the immediate aftermath of the session, our French driver did not understand what went wrong, given that he’d been happy with his STR7 in the morning and then found it had turned into an oversteering beast a couple of hours later. Never happy unless he’s doing very well, “Jev” should take heart from the fact he too has made a valuable contribution to improving our car.

Daniel’s time in the final top ten shoot-out was about half a second off pole, which was set for the first time this season by Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull. Alongside him on the front row for tomorrow’s 57 lap Bahrain Grand Prix will be current championship leader, Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren. The second row sees their team-mates Mark Webber and Jenson Button line up behind them. Inside our Daniel, in fifth place is Nico Rosberg for Mercedes. Lining up on the outside of Jean-Eric on row 10 is Vitaly Petrov in the Caterham.

The intense desert heat and the abrasive track surface mean that, for everyone, the behaviour of the Pirelli Medium and Soft tyres holds the key to a good race performance. Degradation will be high, so choosing the right time to stop to fit new rubber, without seeing lap times tumble, means the strategists have a lot of work to do tonight and will then have to think rapidly on their feet as the afternoon goes on. All this year’s races have been fascinating and this looks like being no different and with Daniel starting from sixth, a big points haul has to be our target.

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