Toro Rosso used China as extended test
18 April 2012 – Knowing their chances of scoring points were low, Toro Rosso used the Chinese Grand Prix as an extended test session. With Daniel Ricciardo driving with updates and Jean-Éric Vergne a more Malaysia-specification car, the Italian squad was able to gain a number of comparisons and gather crucial data in Shanghai.
After scoring with each of their drivers at the opening two rounds in Melbourne and Sepang, Toro Rosso struggled all weekend-long in China; with testing having been so limited since the start of 2009, the team made the most of the situation.
“Well, we’re in Bahrain,” Ricciardo writes in a blog on the team’s website. “We left Shanghai early on Monday and via a couple of stops got to Manama Monday evening. On the flight there was plenty to dwell on after a Chinese Grand Prix weekend that didn’t go how we would have wished.
“We didn’t have the pace but I guess the positive is that both Jean-Éric and myself finished 56 laps and collected some useful data. Actually, quite a lot of data. We went to China with some updates for the car and I spent much of Friday trying those out. We weren’t very quick in qualifying so the team decided to go into the race with JEV driving a car that was more like the one we’d had in Malaysia. It means we’ll have some good comparison information that should help us here in Bahrain and also be useful at the Mugello test which follows this last flyaway.
“The way things worked out in China, the race basically doubled as a test too. It was a long afternoon - a lot of laps just driving around - but when you’re in 17th and there isn’t likely to be weather or attrition, the points seem a long way off and you have to do what you need to do help the team move forward in the future.
"I think what we’ve learned will be useful this week in Bahrain where hopefully we’ll be more competitive.”
Toro Rosso, which finished the 2011 season eighth overall, currently remains in that position and nine points behind seventh-placed Williams.