Toro Rosso eyes double Q3 appearance

© XPB 

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost believes his squad has what it takes to place its two drivers in Q3, the final phase of qualifying, ahead of Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.

F1 rookies Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen had a productive Friday at Sepang, racking up 57 and 53 laps respectively across both free practice sessions.

The 17-year-old Dutchman finished twice inside the top-10 while his Spanish team-mate was P5 and the highest ranked Renault-powered driver in the morning.

Sainz enjoyed a solid debut at the top echelon two weeks ago in Australia where he qualified eighth and picked up his maiden championship points by securing ninth. Meanwhile, Verstappen narrowly missed out on a first Q3 appearance as he set the 12th fastest time around the Albert Park Circuit. On race day, the FIA European F3 graduate became the youngest driver ever to start a Grand Prix and was running well into the points-paying positions when he succumbed to an ICE failure.

Their team principal says he is pretty pleased with how both debutants have fared so far in 2015.

“I’ve seen that they are matured to do Formula One,” declared Tost. “They are very highly skilled and we prepared them quite well during the winter months and in Melbourne and so far they have really done a fantastic job.

“Also today I must say that both drivers competed quite well and I expect that if we get everything together both of them tomorrow will be within the first ten.”

Friday's gallery from the Malaysian Grand Prix

Verstappen, who had never raced in Malaysia before, is equally satisfied with his maiden outing around the Sepang International Circuit.

“It was a good start to the weekend, as I used this morning's FP1 to learn the track and I took it easy, as this is my first time here racing at this circuit,” he said.

“It's not easy to manage the tyres here because it's quite humid, but it was a clean first morning out on track. For this afternoon's FP2 we made some changes and I was happy with the balance of the car. There's still some room to improve, but the day went quite well overall.”

Despite experiencing a trickier afternoon session en route to 14th, team-mate Sainz remains upbeat about his overall Friday performance.

“I think it was a positive FP1 this morning. The car was well-balanced and quick straight away,” said the reigning Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion.

“During this afternoon's session we had a bit more of a problem, especially with traffic management, and when I went to do my Option run I wasn't able to put a lap together as I didn't find any clear space. But we've seen that with some clean running like the other car had, we managed to do a good lap time, so I'm calm and positive about where we are.”

Click here for Friday's gallery from the Malaysian Grand Prix

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