Daniel Ricciardo said he only just managed to keep Esteban Gutierrez behind for tenth place – and a point – in the Spanish Grand Prix.
“We had to really scramble to hold on to tenth,” he told Toro Rosso’s website.
“I wasn’t happy with the balance of the car in that first stint – in fact I was angry because I knew the car had more potential and we just weren’t using it,” he explained.
“Then, the next two stints were really good. The car started working better, I was passing people instead of being passed. At that point I thought we were looking like scoring quite heavily. Then on the last two stints the pace dropped away again.”
He came under attack from the Sauber driver in the final laps of the race: “With a few laps left, the team said Gutierrez was about three seconds behind me – but a couple of corners later he was right on my gearbox. Three seconds! Where did that go?”
“Initially, because he caught me so quickly, I thought he’d be able to walk around me – but I was able to just tick the laps off one-by-one and cover him in the areas where he might be able to pass.
“I just got it – but that last lap was tight. Coming out of turn ten he got nearly alongside me and we were both sideways out of there. I was desperately trying to hold on to it. It was a great relief when I crossed the line in front.”
Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.
Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.
Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.
However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.
Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.
The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.
Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.
A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.