Daniil Kvyat was at a loss for words to explain why he had ended qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix at the bottom of the pile.
The Toro Rosso was over two seconds off the pace of the Mercedes drivers in Q1. Kvyat ended up being eliminated after the first round, and had to watch the rest of the session from the sidelines.
“Our car just wasn’t drivable today,” he told reporters. “It was very hard to get the car around. There’s something wrong with it, I’m sure – 100 per cent.”
Kvyat had failed to finish higher than 15th place in any of the free practice sessions before qualifying. But even so, the abject pace of the Toro Rosso in Q1 has caught him by surprise.
“It was already difficult yesterday and today it just continued,” he sighed. “I had absolutely no grip and I just can’t handle the car well here.
“Many things have to be changed,” he said, unable to pin down the precise reason for the dramatic slump in performance.
The young Russian wasn’t inclined to blame the conditions at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Rising temperatures on the track and gusting winds continued to cause problems for many drivers on Saturday.
“It didn’t help, but it’s the same for everyone,” he said. “It’s just a very, very hard car to drive. You can’t be that far off on a track you know quite well.
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Kvyat doubted that Sunday’s race would be any different.
“I don’t think it’s going to be much better tomorrow,” he admitted. “But we’ll try to see what we can learn from today’s loss of grip.
“Maybe tomorrow it will be better, because Friday the long pace didn’t seem too bad,” he added. “We need to try and pick up anything we can.
“For sure it’s quite a disappointing situation. But we just need to keep our heads down and analyse why I’m struggling here in Barcelona – it’s strange.”
Toro Rosso technical director James Key had no immediate answers for Kvyat’s plight.
“The set-up directions have been similar across both cars,” Key said. “We need to try and understand this, check the car again and see what’s going on that could’ve affected him so badly in qualifying.
“We know he and the car are better than last place on the grid!” he added. “However, this is the result today and we need to look into it in more detail.”
In his 61 Grand Prix races to date, Kvyat has started from the pit lane several times. However, Sunday will be the first time he has ever lined up at the back of the grid.
“Starting last there’s nothing to lose tomorrow,” Kvyat pointed out. “We will just need to go forward and see where we end up after having worked hard overnight.”
This week’s race marks the anniversary of his demotion from the Red Bull team back to Toro Rosso after a problematic start to the 2016 season.
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