Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda has staged a remarkable turnaround in just two weeks after a competitive showing in qualifying at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Pierre Gasly qualified a superb sixth-fastest – which becomes fifth thanks to Lewis Hamilton’s grid penalty – and was thrilled with his Q3 lap.
“[It was] my best qualifying in Formula 1!” he exclaimed.
“It’s been an amazing day…the team has been working very hard since the beginning of the weekend and it’s good to see this effort repaid. I felt really good in the car so I’m very happy.
The Frenchman has been on the pace since the start of the Grand Prix weekend, running consistently in the top half of the timesheets across all three practice sessions. Despite this, he was not initially confident that the STR13 would carry its pace into qualifying.
“We knew we had to put everything together to get into Q3 and we made it! It’s pretty mega!
“Hopefully I can get the best start possible tomorrow – we saw in FP2 that our long run pace was good so let’s see! Of course we expect the front runners like Hamilton and Verstappen to come back quickly, but I think we will be in the fight with Renault and Haas hopefully, so we need to work really hard tonight and make sure we have a car as fast as today and aim to score good points in the race.”
The happiness was not just limited to Gasly’s side of the garage, as his teammate Brendon Hartley managed a career-best eleventh-fastest and missed out on his own Q3 berth by just one-tenth of a second.
The New Zealander paid credit to a number of upgrades developed for the Bahrain Grand Prix, which have unlocked more performance than he or the team expected.
“The fact we’ve brought so much performance is really, really encouraging,” Hartley said.
“I think the estimate from Toro Rosso of the performance from the upgrade was quite small – and it ended up being a lot larger than they estimated, which is also fantastic. It’s normally the other way.
“I had the feeling this was going to be a stronger track for us anyway, compared to Melbourne. But I wasn’t expecting the performance increase from the upgrade that I had on the car today.
“I don’t think anyone in the team expected us to take such a leap forward, to be one of the leading cars of the midfield. Obviously it’s a tight battle still but it’s an incredible effort.
“In Melbourne we were not there. Okay, yeah, I qualified 16th, but that was more or less where we were, we saw the pace in the race. That was where we were.
“We really made a huge step forward.”
Image via Red Bull Toro Rosso