After a Q2 crash out of the tunnel on Saturday and losing positions in the first corner mayhem, Jean-Eric Vergne found himself languishing down the order and even behind the Marussia cars. So Toro Rosso took a risk and brought him in very early on lap 17 for prime tyres with the plan being to run to the end. His midfield rivals stayed out for a further 12 laps, giving the Frenchman a massive undercut and he would eventually find himself 7th. Then it all went a bit mad for him in the final 15 laps. Anyone who follows me on Twitter might have seen me making the point that i heard Vergne shouting on the radio (on the excellent pit channel) about damage. A look at the timing screen showed me he had lost 4 seconds in the middle sector and with yellow flags out i presumed he had clouted the wall somewhere and that the team just put on some intermediates as they had nothing to lose.
Turns out the 'damage' was simply tyre wear - the primes had fallen off the cliff after 53 laps and the one stop strategy was going to be unfeasible. So sorry for any confusion on that on Sunday for any of you on Twitter. Vergne had a 10 second gap on his nearest challenger in the laps before he started to fall away so you have to wonder whether a more conservative approach was needed once he had got track position. The big question is whether 10 laps with a bit of extra care for the sacrifice of a second for each of them would have been enough to get the extra tyre life he needed to hold on to the finish. Just having track position was enough on Sunday, as shown by the train of cars in the top 6 in the closing stages. At least Toro Rosso were bold enough to try something different and it nearly paid off for them.