A track that negates the top speed advantage of its rivals was one where Scuderia Toro Rosso could be hopeful of a return to form, allowing the talented pairing of Sainz Jr and Kvyat to gain confidence in process. Qualifying provided just such a tonic for both drivers with confidence high in the team after P6 and P7 respectively for Carlos and Daniil.
If the team needed confirmation that the aero side of the package was heading the right way then it certainly found it today. The race is another story and both drivers will need to position themselves to take advantage of any Safety Cars, but both will enter the race in positive mood.
Carlos Sainz (STR11-01, Car 55)
Third Practice Session – Best lap: 1:45.879, pos. 9th, 17 laps
Qualifying – Best lap: (Q1) 1:45.499, (Q2) 1:44.493, (Q3) 1:44.197, pos. 6th
“A very positive day! I think we can be very pleased with this qualifying session. After a few tough races, it was time to get back to where I think we belong and to fight for the top six, half a second clear of the Force India, is something to be proud of. It wasn’t as easy as it looked like: I had to stop at the FIA scales in Q2, after that the engine didn’t start and I also missed the second run in Q2… So it was very difficult to get into a rhythm, but finally in Q3 I managed to do two consecutive laps on the ultrasofts and the lap came when it counted. This is a huge boost for the team and we know that we have the pace for a good race tomorrow, so we can be confident! I’d say this is one of my best qualifying sessions of my career and I will be going to bed with a big smile on my face!”
Daniil Kvyat (STR11-03, Car 26)
Third Practice Session – Best lap: 1:45.503, pos. 7th, 19 laps
Qualifying – Best lap: (Q1) 1:45.291, (Q2) 1:44.475, (Q3) 1:44.469, pos. 7th
“A strong day today. That last lap felt pretty good and, even if I only had one set of new ultrasofts left for Q3, we delivered a solid performance and we can be pleased with a P7. It’s always pleasing when the car is at its best on the last lap. It’s encouraging to see that we are back where we should be, showing that we are competitive here, and – fingers crossed – tomorrow we can have a good race! It will be a very long one, where anything can happen, but we just need to keep our head down, be patient and take any chance that comes our way. I feel fine, we are well positioned so now we just need to maximize what we achieved today!”
Phil Charles (Chief Race Engineer)
“A very positive day for us. P6 and P7 in qualifying today is a good pick-me-up for the team. We have struggled at recent events with our top speed deficit. This result just gives everyone a bit of a confidence boost that we have been doing a good job and that when you come to a track which negates some of our weaknesses we can compete again at the level we expect. Obviously, qualifying is only your starting grid and ultimately we are all measured by the finishing result tomorrow and not today. On top of this, Singapore race has traditionally been a tricky one and I think there will still be some tyre-related and safety-car-shaped curved balls to negotiate tomorrow. Nonetheless, it is still nice to be well placed at this point. Most positively, I am pleased with both the drivers and the engineering teams. The drivers delivered good laps in Q3: Daniil did particularly well, given he ran only once in this session, so this lap came with a bit of pressure; Carlos actually also did an excellent job earlier in qualifying by getting through Q1 with a fantastic lap on supersofts. As a result this gave him an extra set of new ultrasofts in Q3 compared to our original plan and enabled him to gain that little bit extra. For the engineers, it is good for them to see a return to form, as it has been a busy few weeks with some of our continued aero package evaluations and they have worked hard to keep on top of the various setup parameters and to learn from the tests done.”