Toro Rosso maintained that its comparatively poor qualifying result in Malaysia was not any cause for concern, despite failing to match the performance it had produced in Melbourne a week ago.
After taking 10th and 11th on the Australian Grand Prix grid, at Sepang Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne will start 15th and 18th. But Toro Rosso's chief engineer Laurent Mekies said the result showed how close the midfield is, rather than indicating a slump for his team.
"We are racing in the same midfield group with Williams, Sauber and Force India and while in Australia we were at the top end of that group, here we are not," said Mekies. "We are only talking about two to three tenths of a second from one end of the group to the other. That means we still have every chance to do well tomorrow.
"In Jean-Eric's case he did not really get to do a time, as he locked a wheel and that's part of the game. Daniel did what he had to, but as it's so tight, a couple of tenths made the difference. In Melbourne we started ahead of this group and after only one lap, we were at the back, so let's hope it's the other way around tomorrow..."
Ricciardo was similarly sanguine about the result.
"I think we are more or less where we thought we would be, as we expected Q3 to be a more difficult target here than in Melbourne," said the Australian. "I am reasonably happy with the lap I did, which was pretty clean and I am not kicking myself thinking I could have done better.
"Hopefully, we have a good package for the race and I will be trying to nose into the points. We've got 56 laps to make up position and yesterday, our long run performance wasn't bad. But if it rains, then it's anyone's game and there will be more opportunities, so that could help."
Vergne added that his Q1 exit was entirely his fault.
"I made a mistake at the first corner, having a massive lock-up on a front wheel. That created so much vibration that I had to come back to the pits and that was my qualifying over," he said.
"Looking for something positive, at least it means we have saved one set of new option tires for the race. There's also a chance of rain for tomorrow so anything could happen, but whatever the conditions, I feel our car can be competitive in race trim."