The Scuderia Toro Rosso team declared itself “very impressed” with the performance of its two rookie drivers, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr, after Friday practice at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The all-new Renault-powered STR10 ran quickly throughout Friday practice, with both drivers running close to each other’s pace and comfortably inside the top-ten in the opening 90-minute session.
Sainz Jr and Verstappen finished fourth- and sixth-fastest in FP1 – both clocked up the highest mileage in the session – and Sainz repeated the dose in FP2, finishing seventh-quickest with a best time of 1:30.071. The Spaniard did have one minor incident, looping his car into a damage-free spin at Turn 15 after dropping a wheel into the dirt under braking.
“I’m happy with today, I had been waiting for this day for a very long time and it was definitely a decent first day,” Sainz Jr said afterwards.
“We covered a lot of mileage, which was obviously our target for today as I am a rookie and new to this circuit. I enjoyed it a lot out there. Now we need to go through all the data we gathered today and keep improving. I feel very comfortable in the car. It’s a challenging track, but I like it and all in all it’s been a positive day.”
Verstappen was less fortunate in FP2, managing just six laps before being sidelined with a battery issue that prematurely ended his on-track running for the day.
“This morning we were able to complete many laps and it was good for me to get used to the track. It was a useful first practice and I was able to understand the car a bit more. I also didn’t make any mistakes, so that was good.
“This afternoon unfortunately we were not able to spend much time out on track due to a battery issue. The team pushed very hard to send me out again but we ran out of time. It wasn’t the best end to the day, but we will check the data tonight and hopefully we can make the best out of tomorrow’s third and final practice session before my first ever qualifying session of the year.”
“Today is the first time we’ve taken our car to a race weekend and our two new drivers did very well,” Toro Rosso’s chief race engineer, Phil Charles, said.
“Carlos and Max were excellent and had absolutely the right approach, settling in nicely and making no major mistakes. We are very impressed.
“We had a bit of bad luck on Max’s car, as a sensor issue in the battery meant that we had to change it. Therefore, he only had one run in FP2 and it’s a shame we were not able to give Max the runs we should have done.
“Carlos did a really solid job on the short runs, even though there’s a few bits we know we have to help him with on the long runs to get him as happy as we can.
“It’s been a pretty good day overall, we had a few niggles with the car which we will try and iron out, get on with a good job tomorrow and hopefully we end with a good Sunday as a result of this,” he concluded.
Images via Scuderia Toro Rosso