After a career-best result last week in China, this week Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo experienced the other side of things as his Bahrain Grand Prix was ruined by a suspiciously reluctant Toro Rosso STR8.
Well, what can I say? Today was just awful – and I don’t know why. It’s something we need to go away and understand. Even taking into account this is a different circuit with different demands and different tyres, it’s just not normal for the car to change that much from one week to the next – particularly when we haven’t done anything to it.
Today’s lap chart makes pretty grim reading: I had the slowest lap of the race, eight-tenths slower than one of the Marussias and I finished the race only 9s clear of one of the Caterhams. As I haven’t forgotten how to drive in the last seven days, there’s something wrong with the car that we need to understand. That performance has gone somewhere. It has to be something big – but not necessarily something easy to find. There’s a variable in there that we have to dig out.
That said, I don’t think this was necessarily going to be a good track for us. Last week was a great result and it was always going to be difficult to repeat it. Our pace on Friday wasn’t good – though not to the extent that we saw in the race – and we didn’t see anything to suggest we were going to be strong. I think qualifying went okay, not great but okay, and we got the most out of it that we could. Obviously anything can happen on Sunday but we weren’t approaching it expecting to be strong.
From my engineers today I heard quite a lot of ‘keep pushing’ but never a ‘great lap’, or ‘your pace is good.’ It can get a bit lonely out there on days like this! But they’ll be as keen as I am to get to the bottom of what happened – and that’s the critical point: you’re going to have bad weeks in motor racing, the important thing is how you deal with those and solve the problems. I think that’s going to be the real focus in the weeks ahead.
Looking at these first four races as a whole, we haven’t really found a happy medium. China was great, the other three haven’t been up to scratch, so it’s difficult to assess where we are. Something to look forward to is that the next race, in Barcelona, is likely to be a little bit more like China than any of the others. We’ll also have updates on the car in Spain, which will be good.
Actually my next three weekends will all be in Spain. Next week I’m revisiting the World Series, driving the RB7 in a show car run at Aragon. The following weekend we have an aero test, also in Spain.
As for the weekdays, I’ll have a few days in the simulator, a lot of training and I’ll pop over to the wind tunnel to try to help the boys there out a bit. We’ll move forward and get the car back into the top 10.'
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