Onwards and upwards

Onwards and upwards

May 31, 2016

The Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday lived up to its reputation for providing plenty of drama and surprises but Scuderia Toro Rosso left a track that has suited it well in the past, with little to show for it, other than an eighth place finish for Carlos Sainz, while team-mate Daniil Kvyat crashed out. Our Technical Director James Key guides us through the events of the longest weekend on the F1 calendar after first touching on the two days of testing following the Spanish Grand Prix.

"The Barcelona test was really good timing because it allowed Daniil to step back and understand a little bit more about what he needed to do with the car and what we needed to do for him without the pressure of a race weekend and with a bit more time to settle into the team," said James. "That did work and we came to Monaco with changes and even new things on the car as a result of that."

"From the outset, we had pretty reasonable pace. We were in the top ten every session so we were pretty encouraged by that. It was clear Force India were quite quick and it was difficult to tell where some of the teams were until qualifying. In general, we were happy with Thursday, therefore, we didn't make that many changes between Thursday and Saturday morning, just a few tweaks. We continued to be at a reasonable level. Even on the harder compound tyres, we seemed to have the right ingredients here of the downforce, the tyre temperature control, the handling characteristics of the car which is good for tight circuits like this, and the drivers too - both drivers like Monaco, they're good in Monaco."

"That's when the weekend started to go a bit downhill - when it mattered. Fundamentally, quali was ok until the second run of Q2. We just did a couple of laps in Q1 and that was enough to see us safe which was good. It meant that we saved two sets of Ultrasoft tyres for Q3. Qualifying here is fundamental because of the nature of the track so wanted to give ourselves the best opportunity in Q3."

"The complication in Q2 was that you needed to build temperature in the tyres. It was very difficult to tell whether you really needed that 'build' lap or not, particularly as the track temperatures had increased by the time of qualifying to be the highest we'd seen all weekend. In Q1 you've got plenty of time. In Q2 you haven't. Ideally, you do an 'out' lap, a 'build' lap to build up temperature, then a first flying lap to set a time, then you would repeat that process. But this involves a very long run with a lot of time attached to it. In Q2, you could only do the first part of that process and for your second quick lap, you would just do a 'build' lap followed by the quick one. You also had to deal with the traffic, which is notoriously difficult in Monaco. We found the first laps were fine. The intention being to use that run as a banker. You then prepared for your second run as a build lap and a single time to get through to Q3 but we didn't get our second run in properly."

"For Q3 we had two new sets of tyres, but the first laps weren't great. Again, we had to build and push. The second laps were looking very strong for Daniil particularly, he was scheduled for a 1 minute14.6 which would have seen him next to Vettel, only half a tenth off , but he lost a bit of time at the end of the lap and skipped over the kerb at the exit of the swimming pool. That damaged the floor of the car quite significantly: with the damaged floor he lost a load of downforce and half a second in the last sector. It left him P9 before Raikkonen's gearbox penalty moved him up to P8 on the grid. Carlos did very good sectors two and three. His first sector was a wee bit down, otherwise I think he could have been P5, while Daniil deserved better than P9."

"The original strategy was going to be 90% a one-stop in dry conditions. Then the rain came and in accordance with the rules, everyone started on the extreme wet tyres. At the start behind the Safety Car, we had a problem, a software issue with Daniil's car, which completely took us by surprise. Basically, none of the procedures were wrong. The driver didn't do anything wrong, but the problem left Daniil a lap down at the start of the race. He had to fight his way back and it's incredibly difficult here to fight your way up the field and he ended up having a collision. We can't blame him for that as our mistake put him in that position. He was on for a good race, potentially."



"As for Carlos, his pace was fantastic, but we had poor pit stops, due to a problem on one corner of the car, which meant we lost track position quite significantly. Second stop, we had a similar issue. We just got held in the pit lane with traffic so we lost a load of time. In both stops, we lost something like two or three seconds and when you're in a queue of cars, that's the difference between the front of that queue and the back of that queue. Had we not had that we would have a Perez-style race because we would have been ahead of this train behind Rosberg and Alonso. But we ended up in the middle of that train, which further compromised Carlos' race. He commented several times in the debrief that he was actually watching the Giant TV screens and working out what was going on elsewhere because he felt he had a lot of pace but could not use it. He lost a bit of time under a couple of blue flags with some backmarkers, but such was his pace that within two laps he made it up. His feeling was that he had a huge amount of pace there, but being caught in the traffic and not being able to pass, he couldn't use it. We came away pretty frustrated, because had we got those pit stops much cleaner, we could and should have come out with Vettel and Perez, preferably ahead because we were ahead of Perez anyway at the beginning of the race and then we would have been in that fight for third. Given the pace we had, it could have been quite a genuine fight for third. Thanks to that pace, a podium finish was possible, but losing that track position meant it wasn't going to happen. Now, all we can do is look onwards and upwards."