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GP Week : Issue 187
Heading into the weekend, many pundits were already etching Daniel Ricciardo’s name onto the side of the yet-to-be built RB10, but the man himself was quick to state that his teammate could still be in the frame for a Red Bull seat in 2014. And in retrospect, it was Jean-Eric Vergne who had the better weekend at Toro Rosso. Ricciardo delivered another superb top-ten qualifying performance (his fourth in a row), only to lose a place to a hard-charging Jenson Button on lap one. The Australian was then unable to settle into the groove he desired, eventually falling back to 13th behind Vergne, who managed to climb two positions from his original grid slot. It was a bruising Hungarian Grand Prix for Toro Rosso. With both drivers out of the points, it was hardly a cause for celebration – especially for a team that usually develops well amidst competition turning their attention to next year’s car. Vergne acknowledged this fact, saying there was no delight to be taken from the team’s performance; his own improvement over Ricciardo notwithstanding. “In the race we struggled and we could not match our usual rivals,” mused Vergne. “I did what I could after a bad start, which meant I had to fight to get back to where I was. Beating my teammate? It means nothing, especially when we are outside the points. I'd rather finish behind him inside the points.” Ricciardo too was bemused by the car’s performance, conceding that they had perhaps taken a step backwards, especially in the unanticipated searing conditions at the Hungaroring. “Right from the start it was clear we weren't really quick,” he said. “I tried to hold position as long as I could, but we were way too slow. I tried my best in terms of trying to maintain a good pace and look after the tyres, but today it was not enough to go looking for points. We got a bit more out of the car in qualifying yesterday, but it's hard to repeat that for seventy laps. We struggled at Nurburgring as well, so the heat has got something to do with it. We could not match our competitors today, just lacking speed when we have a heavy fuel load, which is the opposite of what we tended to see with last year's car." While Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said in Budapest that Vergne was not on the short-list of candidates to replace Webber, the Frenchman’s consistent in-race improvement is what has kept him ahead of the more celebrated Ricciardo in the drivers’ standings. The Hungarian Grand Prix weekend showed that perhaps Vergne has been too readily dismissed by the powers that be at the senior team. Ricciardo feels the Vergne 37 GPWEEK.com // 37 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> HUNGARY