A battling performance saw Daniel Ricciardo repair the damage of Toro Rosso’s meagre qualifying return, snatching a top-10 finish and a point in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
Sunday was a good day, but we didn’t have a great weekend in Belgium. We struggled on Friday, messed up qualifying and only got things together on Sunday. There’s a few missed opportunities there. That said, I’m happy with the race: taking tenth place and a point having started 19th is a good return.
Obviously qualifying didn’t work out too well, and we had a good discussion about that on Saturday afternoon. It’s a very honest environment and everybody realises the best way to move forward is to learn from mistakes. There’s no finger-pointing but the discussions are usually very frank. We have to put our hands up, accept we got it wrong and then move forward. Things like this happen and you have to understand them and then concentrate on the next thing.
The team put together a good plan for the race. The intention was always to stop twice but going long on the first stint with the hard tyre gave us the flexibility to switch to a one-stop race if that looked like the right call. But once we put on the new Medium tyre we knew it gave us quite a lot, so we pushed hard, stopped for another new set, and were able to pass enough people to break into the top ten by the chequered flag. Salvage job complete.
I think we have good pace in the car but the story so far this year is that sometimes that pace can be a little hard to locate. Jev found it pretty early this weekend and was flying on Friday. On my side of the garage it took longer. We were experimenting with a few things that didn’t really work out how we hoped – but that’s why it’s called experimenting.
There are definitely mixed feelings when your team-mate is quick and you aren’t. During the sessions on Friday and in between FP1 and FP2 it’s not an immediate issue: you focus on your own programme and working on what your guys want to achieve for the day. It’s after that you look at what your team-mate’s been doing. The first impression – and I was over a second slower than Jev on Friday – is to say “what a rubbish day.” After that you rationalise a bit more and see the positives: your team-mate has proven there’s good pace in the car; work well as a team and both cars can be up there.
Next up is Toro Rosso’s home race, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. It’s a very exciting prospect because judging on our performance here, we should have a good top speed there and be able to really nail it. With a better qualifying performance I think we can score heavily. Last year the second half of the season worked well for us, this year we’ve come back after the mid-season break and scored straight away again – it’d be nice to keep that moving forward.