Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger may have to think twice about his driver line-up for next year after Sebastien Bourdais delivered one of his best qualifying performances to date.
The Toro Rosso driver has come under intense pressure to sharpen up his act at the team having been consistently out performed by Sebastian Vettel.
And with several new talents linked to the Faenza-based outfit it has been rumoured that the multiple champ car champion could find himself without a seat for next year.
A sterling qualifying performance at Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand prix may have just saved the Frenchman’s bacon though: he unexpectedly went quickest of all in Q2 after bolting on the soft tyres in the closing stages, before edging out his team-mate for ninth place in the shoot out.
“It was nice to see my name at the top of a time sheet in Q1,” he said afterwards, “It’s been a long time!”
“It was a qualifying session when I can get out of the car and say that I drove well and that the team, as usual did a good job.”
“The car worked well even if we couldn’t mix it too much with those ahead of us. But let’s see what strategies the others are on in terms of fuel loads tomorrow.”
“A couple of tenths is all that separated us from sixth or seventh. It’s beginning to come together and it’s been a good weekend so far. I feel this track and its corners suit me better.”
Team-mate and Red-Bull bound Sebastian Vettel was pleased to have progressed into the shoot-out but admitted that he could have gone quicker had he not made a mistake on his final run.
“I’m quite happy and we can be satisfied to get both cars in Q3, which we did not expect at this track. It was a strong qualifying performance. I was struggling a bit on those sections where the driver doesn’t have to do much.”
“I could not find the pace my teammate had. I messed up my last run a bit but it didn’t affect the result in the end. I think we have a good strategy for both cars so let’s see what happens. At the moment, I’m starting on the dirty side of the track but if it rains for the race it becomes the clean side.”
It is the second time in a row that Toro Rosso, aided by Ferrari engines, have got both their cars into the top ten. Technical Director Giorgio Ascanelli admits that the result exceeded expectations:
“I had predicted tenth and thirteenth. It is the second race in a row that we get both cars into Q3 and they have run reliably. Clearly our guys are on two different strategies, so Vettel didn’t get the full potential out of the car as he is clearly heavier and he didn’t have the benefit of a first sighting run in Q3.
“Anything can happen at this track and for the race we wanted to have our cars positioned differently: the fastest driver and today that was Bourdais, gets the fastest strategy in Q3. Overall, it was a strong performance.”