Anyone would have forgiven Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat for being a little down in the dumps on Friday evening in Brazil, after both Toro Rosso drivers suffered power unit issues that saw them end Free Practice 2 at the side of the Interlagos circuit. But given that their STR14s were fitted out with older power units for Friday running, both drivers appeared confident of getting their weekends back on track in time for qualifying and the race.

    After enduring a mostly rainy FP1 – during which Kvyat suffered a late spin – both Toro Rosso drivers then had their FP2s cut short with their respective power unit issues. Gasly was forced to pull smokily off the circuit at the exit of Turn 3, having already suffered an earlier spin at the previous corner during the session.

    Kvyat’s exit was more dramatic, meanwhile, the Russian’s car shutting down mid-corner and appearing to lock the rear axle, sending him into the Turn 12 barriers.

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    We knew my engine was quite old and we were giving it a pretty hard time – we kind of expected this would happen at some point

    Pierre Gasly

    “It wasn’t great to stop the session before [the end],” said Gasly on Friday evening. “And then this morning was wet so we didn’t have much running on the dry.

    “We knew on Friday we’d run older engines to save the race engines. We knew that [my] one was quite old and we were giving it a pretty hard time and we kind of expected this would happen at some point. We missed a couple of laps, but conditions will be really different tomorrow and Sunday, so hopefully we didn’t miss that much information.”

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    Kvyat – who, it was announced in the run-up to the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, would be retained at Toro Rosso for 2020 alongside Gasly – seemed similarly nonchalant when reflecting on his day, having still managed to end up a decent P14 in FP2, while Gasly was P12, after lapping 0.072s quicker than his team mate.

    “Everything just went off,” he said of his FP2-ending shunt. “The rear locked up completely, so that’s why I went off the track. Then something was smoking on the car. Hopefully it didn’t do too much damage, so I believe it’s going to be fine, to be honest.”

    FP2: Engine problem brings Gasly to a smoky halt

    Pressed on whether he thought his Friday failure could yet derail his weekend, Kvyat replied: “They are evaluating the damage on the car, but I don’t think so.

    “Obviously it was not our race engine in, so I think if there is a problem with anything, we can survive. So unless there’s something really [damaged], I don’t see any problem.”

    A good weekend from Toro Rosso is essential if they want to overhaul rivals Racing Point for sixth in the constructors’ standings, with the Italian team just one point behind heading into the final two races of the year. And the good news for Toro Rosso was that, despite their double failure, both drivers still finished FP2 ahead of the Racing Point pair, Sergio Perez ending up 15th as Lance Stroll was 17th.


    The constructors' standings pre-Brazil

    1 Mercedes Mercedes Mercedes 695
    2 Ferrari Ferrari Ferrari 479
    3 Red Bull Racing Red Bull Racing Red Bull Racing 366
    4 McLaren McLaren McLaren 121
    5 Renault Renault Renault 83
    6 Racing Point Racing Point Racing Point 65
    7 Toro Rosso Toro Rosso Toro Rosso 64
    8 Alfa Romeo Racing Alfa Romeo Racing Alfa Romeo Racing 35
    9 Haas F1 Team Haas F1 Team Haas F1 Team 28
    10 Williams Williams Williams 1