Q: Jean-Eric, so far this season Toro Rosso have been strong in qualifying - often getting both cars into Q3 - yet you have only eight points on the board. Why is that?
Jean-Eric Vergne: Well, if you’ve seen the races you’ll understand. From six races there were four that I didn’t finish - that is I guess a good enough answer to that question. Take Monaco two weeks ago: I was in P5 before the drive-though penalty - and before the exhaust blew up. So yes, we definitely should have many more points scored than what we have in reality.
Q: So it is all about reliability…
JEV: Definitely. Because yes, we do have a very good performance in qualifying - but then I am not able to finish the races because of technical issues. Reliability is the main concern, because you can drive like hell in qualifying, start from a good position, but when you don’t finish the race it all means nothing.
Q: As you say, luck has deserted you in four out of six races - three times with reliability issues and once with an accident. How annoying is that, especially as this season could be critical for your career?
JEV: Firstly, even that accident was due to reliability. And it’s annoying, yes, because of course you want to do well and have good results. Is it an influence on my career? No, because (Toro Rosso team principal) Franz (Tost) and all in the team know exactly where I stand and know how much I’ve improved compared to last year - and that is important and really what matters.
Q: So far it seems that only one Renault-powered car has worked without serious issues - that of Daniel Ricciardo. Is that something that goes through your head and demands answers?
JEV: No, not really. I don’t rack my brain with that, because all cars had different problems. I am only thinking about the problems we are facing at Toro Rosso. That is the only thing that matters. Only if it was an engine matter that could affect all the Renault-powered teams, then I would want to know. But all the different issues are nothing that really would drag me into ‘meditation’.
Q: You have a very fast rookie team mate in Daniil Kvyat. Did you expect him to be matching you on points almost a third of the way into the season? He’s got rather less experience…
JEV: He is a talented driver and I knew that he would be quick. I was pretty sure that Red Bull would pick their most talented young driver, so this is nothing special.
Q: It’s your third F1 season and it’s still a rollercoaster ride. Is the apparent lack of stability annoying?
JEV: There is no such thing as stability in Formula One. You can do extremely well one year and struggle the next - that even can change from race to race. I know that I am strong in my head and that nothing affects me. Even if I don’t finish races I do the same job. Every race weekend is a new chance - I take it like this. All the bad luck that I had will never affect me in any way.
Q: But knowing that you could do so well, but that misfortune denies you - doesn’t that make you want to go up the wall?
JEV: No, it makes me stronger. I know that everything will be alright and I will have really good results. It is just a matter of time - and at many other races I should have been in the points as well, and the team knows that. Of course an outsider who looks at the many DNF’s might not understand what is going on. I sure don’t want to be that kind of guy saying, ‘I should have been in the points,’ but everybody can see it.
Q: The next stop after Canada will be the Austrian Grand Prix - Red Bull’s home race. How much do you already know about the track? Doing well there is obviously a must…
JEV: I know very little about it. I have done two laps there last year, but I am really looking forward to doing well. It will be a very important for the two Red Bull teams. Of course I want to do well there, as it is important.
Q: How satisfied were you with qualifying this afternoon - was more possible?
JEV: I am really satisfied with P8. The team has done a good job and I think it was one of my strongest qualifyings. I was really pleased with all my laps this afternoon - not only the one that brought me P8 on the grid. It was a strong performance.
Q: But what will happen tomorrow?
JEV: We will have a good start and a good race. No exhaust issues, please! The team has found what was wrong - and found a solution - so I am confident of having no more of these issues tomorrow.
Q: Last year you did pretty well here and finished in P6 - could that be the target again?
JEV: Ah, but one year in between - that is never the same. You can never bank on last year’s results. I don’t take what I did last year for granted.
Q: But it’s a track to your liking?
JEV: I like every track. I like driving an F1 car - no matter where. And hopefully with no issues tomorrow!