Testing Encouraging for Toro Rosso
Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne was encouraged by his team’s performance during the second and final day of testing in Bahrain and he hopes that the exercise has given them some useful pointers as to how to regain some reliability after a difficult couple of weeks.
Lewis Hamilton was quickest during an eventful day’s testing which saw Fernando Alonso manage just 12 tracks of the circuit before retiring due to chassis damage and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean completing just 16. Vergne and his team, on the other hand, managed a full and productive day with the Frenchman recording the second fastest lap of the day. “It was not a completely trouble-free day, but that’s what testing is about,” said the 23 year old. “That aside, we got some serious work done today that can inform us on the way to move forward for the next part of the season. From that point of view, today was very productive and important,” he added.
Toro Rosso’s season started promisingly, with both of their drivers finishing in the top ten in Australia but recent weeks have seen a dip in fortune for Vergne in particular. Whilst Vergne’s 19-year old teammate Daniil Kvyat has performed consistently since (finishing 10th in Malaysia and 11th in Bahrain), the man who joined Toro Rosso as a test driver in 2011 has failed to finish on both occasions (retiring due to accident damage in Bahrain and a mechanical fault in Malaysia). Given these retirements, the two days of testing in Bahrain could not have come at a better time for the team’s lead driver. “We got some good answers about which direction to work in,” Vergne said. “Another plus point is that I feel the car itself has a good performance potential and will work really well, once we have everything under control, which is very encouraging,” he added positively.
Vergne finished in 15th place in the Driver’s Championship last season but after such an impressive start to 2014 he will be hoping to trouble the top 10 this time round. Daniil Kvyat, in his first season as an F1 driver, has shown that the Toro Rosso have the speed to pick up championship points, it just remains to be seen whether Vergne can keep the car on the track long enough to finish the race. Vergne’s first chance to see whether the Bahrain testing and improvements make a difference to reliability will come at the Chinese grand Prix on the 20th April. After winning the last two races, and showing his speed again in testing, Lewis Hamilton will no doubt go into that race as the favourite but his team mate Nico Rosberg will be hot on his heels. Vergne and Kvyat are unlikely to have the speed or the stamina to come close to a podium finish but they could both crash the top 10 with a little bit of good fortune on their side.