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GP Week : Issue 182
It was another day of mixed fortunes for Toro Rosso, with Daniel Ricciardo coming home with another points finish while teammate Jean-Eric Vergne dealt with pit lane issues and the worrying trend of extreme tyre delimitation. Bolstered by an upturn of pace since arriving in Barcelona, the Faenza - based team were literally beaming with confidence during Free Practice as a consequence of having both their drivers comfortably within the top five, only for their challenge to fall away slightly come Saturday. Having just missed out on a top 10 start in qualifying, Daniel Ricciardo was trounced off the line by both Force Indias, but a botched pit-stop for Sutil gave the Australian racer some clean air, which he took advantage of to set about reeling in Paul di Resta. By lap 18, Ricciardo was sixth-tenths quicker than di Resta; he passed the Scot in a sweeping move around the outside of Turn 1 a lap later and began to close on the McLaren of Sergio Perez. In contrast, Vergne had by that point lost 12th place to the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez and was focussed on a battle with Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas. Vergne’s race came unstuck after an unsafe pit lane release from Sauber threw Hulkenberg into the Frenchman’s path – damaging both the rear of the Toro Rosso and the Sauber’s front wing. Hulkenberg was given a ten -second stop-go penalty by the stewards, but it would be of no consolation to Vergne, who was faced with the unrewarding task of chasing down the Marussia of Max Chilton for last place. Vergne was forced to pit yet again after a right rear tyre delaminated down to the steel band. He eventually retired due to a damaged floor and wing, damage incurred in the accident with Hulkenberg. It was another cruel blow for Toro Rosso after rectifying exhaust issues that resulted in retirements in Australia and Malaysia. Ricciardo kept the team’s spirits up as he managed to fend off Gutierrez to seal tenth position just behind the McLaren of Sergio Perez, a result Toro Rosso will seek to improve upon throughout the remainder of the European season. “I had a really poor start off the line, with a lot of wheelspin and, to be honest, the first few laps of the race I really struggled with front grip and locking the front brakes,” said Ricciardo. “I tried to be patient and eventually it improved and I could see the cars ahead of me were not pulling away so much. At the first stop, we made quite a few changes in terms of wing settings and tyre pressures and that helped... But then, towards the end of the race, our pace began to fade again. It wasn't easy to get tenth, even if we looked on course to get more than the one point earlier in the race, so it's better than nothing.” Toro Rosso’s mid-field battles F1 >>> BARCELONA 21 GPWEEK.com // 21 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: