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Jean-Eric Vergne Q&A: Kvyat form motivates me

04 Apr 2014

Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne has made a strong start to 2014, claiming eighth in Australia and making the Q3 cut-off in qualifying at the first two Grands Prix. But matching him almost blow for blow has been his rookie team mate Daniil Kvyat. So is Vergne worried? No, instead the Frenchman insists that the Russian’s impressive form will spur both him and the team on...

Q: Jean-Eric, so far it’s been a reasonably good start to the new season. Can you tell us about the strengths of the Toro Rosso?

Jean-Eric Vergne: Right now I think our strength is the people in the team. The team philosophy changed in a good way as quite a number of new people joined. I would say that we are only half way to where we want to be this year - there is a lot more to come. I am proud of the work that has been done so far, and I know that the best is yet to come.

Q: What about the car? What are its relative strengths and weaknesses?

JEV: I think it is a car that has been ‘well born’ - even though it’s clear that we have to improve in every aspect. The positive side is that all the improvements we have brought since the winter tests have done the trick, and there is still more to come. In detail, it is not fantastic at high-speed or under braking, but those are areas we can work on. The good news is that it is reliable. That makes me confident that we are moving in the right direction and that it is only a matter of time for us to be able to improve the performance.

Q: What’s your take on the Renault power unit? All Renault-powered teams suffered in pre-season…

JEV: It is no secret that we started the season far off, so it was an amazing job that the Renault guys, together with us and Red Bull, have done to enable us to fight with the Ferrari and Mercedes-powered teams. So far Red Bull have finished on the podium twice. Unfortunately it turned sour for Daniel Ricciardo in Melbourne, but everybody saw that he was on the podium even if they took it away from him. Toro Rosso meanwhile has finished in the points twice, so overall I am really positive about the future. And if they give us the engine that we want to have - from ours and Red Bull’s point of view - then my guess is that we will be really strong.

Q: Is driving this year’s car more challenging?

JEV: I think so, yes. There are more things to check out on the steering wheel, you have to keep an eye on the fuel consumption and the energy consumption as well, so it’s a bit more mentally challenging now.

Q: What are your chances this weekend?

JEV: Let’s get back to Malaysia: this was a really though weekend for us. We should have been in the points with both cars but unfortunately I couldn’t finish the race. My guess is that this weekend should be even more suitable for us as the heat in Malaysia was not really good for us - we really suffered from the engine side. Thank goodness it isn’t as hot here, especially as it is a night race. That should put us in a reasonably good position.

Q: How do you like the Sakhir track under floodlights?

JEV: It is fantastic. Of course it is a different atmosphere than in Singapore, which is a street circuit, but to see all the colours of the track - and the illuminated architecture of the grandstands - is quite something. It looks really beautiful.

Q: Your new team mate Daniil Kvyat is really pushing you. How much do you take that as motivation - and how much pressure does it put you under?

JEV: Of course it is always motivating if your team mate is breathing down your neck. Yes he is pushing really hard, and that is good for the team. It will get us somewhere.

Q: What have you made of Friday's running in Bahrain?

JEV: It was a really promising first day. Daniil showed the potential of the car, and from FP1 to FP2 I was able to enhance the speed of my car and get it closer to where I want it to be. There are good chances that tomorrow we will get both cars into Q3. That would make it a nice Saturday evening!