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GP Week : Issue 185
The oscillations between Jean-eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo must have Christian Horner and Helmut Marko thinking they’re watching a Formula One equivalent of Pong. While both Toro Rosso drivers will be too young to remember the embryonic arcade game, they do know that momentum shifts to both sides of the garage must be controlled if either driver hopes to keep Kimi Raikkonen from taking the second seat at Red Bull. A strong showing from Ricciardo in China had many pundits believing he was in the box seat for a place alongside Vettel in 2014, but a lacklustre performance in Canada while teammate Vergne cruised to sixth only served to throw weight behind the Frenchman’s top-flight aspirations. The announcement of Webber’s retirement may just have lit a firework in Daniel’s derriere. Throughout practice at Silverstone, the Australian racer had embossed his name on sixth place and even headed FP1 with an opportunistic wet-weather effort to top the timesheets. In contrast, Vergne was struggling to break into Q2, although flattered to deceive when he split the McLarens, lining up 12th on the grid. Both Toro Rosso drivers made poor starts in Silverstone, with Ricciardo losing positions to Sutil, Massa, and Raikkonen, and Vergne dropping four spots to 16th. After Massa’s tyre exploded, drivers were warned to stay off the kerbs, but on lap 15 Vergne’s left- rear exploded heading down Wellington Straight, sending debris into the cockpit of Kimi Raikkonen and effectively ending Vergne’s race. In contrast, Ricciardo was fending off Fernando Alonso with the same kind of racing acumen that saw him elude the advances of Michael Schumacher at Suzuka in 2011. There were no heroics, just a driver maximising his car’s advantages in defence in much the same way Alonso would in attack. That Ricciardo would eventually lose two places to Alonso and Hamilton on ageing rubber during the dying stages of the race (still finishing an impressive eighth) will no doubt be blamed on bad strategy. It’s time for a Toro Rosso driver to assert their dominance. Two men enter... One man leaves with a chance at Red Bull ... Toro Rosso: If the seat fits ... 34 GPWEEK.com // 34 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> GREAT BRITAIN