Toro Rosso can expect to be competitive in China – Gasly

Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley

Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda can expect to be competitive at the Chinese Grand Prix after Pierre Galy’s outstanding performance during last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix says the Frenchman.

Gasly claimed fourth position under the lights, the highest finishing position by a Honda-powered F1 car since the Japanese brand returned to the sport with McLaren in 2015.

The success came after a disappointing retirement in the Australian Grand Prix for Gasly, forcing Honda to react and bring modified parts for Bahrain to improve reliability.

Honda plans to continue its step up of the engine development in the coming weeks, but China’s Shanghai circuit could prove more difficult.

The layout’s iconic long back straight, one of the longest on the F1 calendar, may expose aToro Rosso-Honda weakness in putting the spotlight on Honda’s energy recovery system which has previously been low on top speed.

“We expect to be quite competitive, after what we learned from Bahrain,” Gasly said.

“But as I say, we don’t know if we’re going to be on top of the midfield, if we are going to be in the middle, we just know that to have a similar performance as Bahrain we really need to be on top of everything and just make everything perfectly.

“The track layout, for sure, is not one of our favourites, or is not going to be as easy, with the long back straight. But still you need to have a really strong car in the middle part of the track, so I think we can still expect to be competitive.

“We were pretty slow in Melbourne. We were very competitive in Bahrain, even faster than what we expected, so it’s still difficult for us to know for us exactly where is the performance of the car.

“I think we are going to be in the fight for the midfield, but hopefully on top of it.”

Alonso radio joke was a credit to Honda

Gasly also explained the meaning behind his Fernando Alonso joke over the team radio after the Bahrain Grand Prix.

After crossing the line fourth, the 2016 GP2 champion declared ‘now we can fight’, a reference to Alonso who said the same thing at the close of the Australian Grand Prix where he finished fifth in a Renault-powered McLaren following three difficult seasons with Honda.

Gasly attempted to clear the mist on the topic during the Chinese Grand Prix Thursday press conference.

“It was just a little joke – that is it,” he said. “I just I think we need to give credit back to Honda.

“In the end, they had a really tough three years with McLaren and to finish fourth in our second race with them was just amazing.

“It was a way to give back to them credit because they are working really hard. They need credit for the hard work they are doing.

“I have huge respect for Fernando so I’m just making it clear. Don’t get me wrong. Fernando for sure is one of the best drivers of all time in Formula One, and one of the drivers I looked up to when I was young, one of my idols actually.”