By Andrew Cutler
March 18 2012
There for a couple of moments during the opening lap of the Australian GP, it looked like what had been a good weekend so far for Scuderia Toro Rosso was going to be all for naught. Going into the first turn on Lap One, Daniel Ricciardo found himself getting squeezed into Bruno Senna's Williams, forcing both cars into the pits for repairs. A couple of turns further up the road, Jean-Eric Vergne was pushed wide by Mark Webber's RBR, forcing him strait on through a gravel trap.
By the end of Lap One, JEV had fallen to sixteenth and Daniel was tail-end Charlie on the field: Hardly the kind of start that promises to lead to a good finish.
But then again, there is a reason why drivers are paid to never give up; because anything can happen.
Ricciardo and Vergne bore down and focused in on recouping their early losses, and a combination of their persistance and other drivers' problems allowed them to get back into the thick of the midfield battle. By the GP's final lap they were holding onto 10th (JEV) and 11th (Daniel) when they got one final lucky break: Pastor Maldonado's Williams crashed ahead of them, causing a last turn 'bunching' of the 9th-12th place cars, which Ricciardo took full advantage of, slipping past the others to claim 9th spot, and his first-ever two championship points. Vergne would be nipped at the line by Paul Di Resta's Force India, and had to settle for finishing in 11th spot.
After the race, Team Principal Franz Tost was pleased with the result and hopeful for the upcomming season: “Having started from 10th and 11th on the grid, it might seem quite normal to finish ninth and 11th but this was far from a normal race and it was an exciting spectacle with which to start the season... Both drivers did a good job all weekend, gaining in experience from day to day. The car performance was very good over the three days and I think we can look forward to another strong race in Malaysia in seven days’ time and indeed to a good season.”