Toro Rosso technical director James Key says the team needed Max Verstappen's fourth place in the Hungarian Grand Prix, but was left frustrated at other missed opportunities.
Verstappen produced an impressive drive to secure fourth place in a chaotic race at the Hungaroring, bringing Toro Rosso its biggest points haul of the season so far. However, speaking exclusively to F1i, Key admits the reliability issue which struck Carlos Sainz resulted in an even better return being lost.
“My reaction to the result is mixed to be honest,” Key told F1i.com. “Obviously, it was a great drive from Max and a great result for the team. It was the sort of result we needed as it means it’s very close between us and Lotus and Force India, with only eight points between seventh and fifth in the championship, going into the summer break.
"Hungary was the sort of circuit where we had to do well, as it suited out car and although qualifying was disappointing, our race pace was really quite good. However, the negative aspect was that Carlos retired. We’re sorry for him as it's the third race in a row where he’s been stopped by some issue while running in the points.
"We are investigating the issue, which looks like it was something very simple – a Toro Rosso problem not a Renault one. It should not have happened, as it has never occurred in the past. The frustration is that he was running behind Max so a P4 and P5 finish was possible. It would have pushed us further up the standings.”
Key believes, in what was a race full of surprises, even a podium finish might have been on the cards as Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Rosberg clashed ahead of Verstappen.
“When Max was given a penalty, we were very lucky that he had a big enough gap to the guys behind him to maintain fourth place. Without the penalty, we might have been in contention for third place when Ricciardo had his pit stop. Looking at the numbers it would have been incredibly close.
"So, happy and frustrated. But clearly it was very good for Max for his confidence going into the second half of the season and good for the confidence of the team. It’s put us in reasonable shape to go fighting in the second half of the season.”
James Key was speaking to F1i's Eric Silbermann
Click here for F1i's driver ratings following the Hungarian Grand Prix