Red Bull B-team Toro Rosso was one of the star performers in Bahrain, the squad unlocking performance from the STR13 – and turning the page on reliability issues suffered in Melbourne.
In Australia, New Zealand rookie Brendon Hartley finished 15th and last, one lap down, while it was retirement for Frenchman Pierre Gasly with an MGU-H failure on Lap 14.
Both cars were fitted with a new MGU-H and turbocharger as a precaution in Bahrain, Gasly also taking a new engine – edging the pair closer to their first grid penalties, with just three power units allocated for the year. Gasly then took his best-ever F1 result with fourth, while Hartley was 17th after a penalty earned on the formation lap.
And with Gasly’s standout result also Honda’s best ever in F1’s turbo hybrid era, Toro Rosso has faith it will continue to close the gap to its rivals.
"On their side, they are pushing flat out because they really want to show everyone they can do proper engines," Gasly said.
The squad began 2018 positively, with works power for the first time and reliable running against the odds in pre-season testing.
SOUNDBITE (English) FRANZ TOST,
TEAM PRINCIPAL, TORO ROSSO:
“We built up a completely new car with the new power unit from Honda, which is integrated quite well with a really good cooperation with Honda. And, at the end, I must say that I think we have a competitive package.”
Toro Rosso completed the third-highest mileage during pre-season testing, with 822 laps, 107 less than Ferrari. The minnow squad just ahead of Williams and Renault.
But it will need to ensure reliability issues don’t start to creep in again with the midfield a brutal battle.
And, while Honda joined Toro Rosso this year for development away from the spotlight, the pressure is still very much on, with Red Bull continuing to assess potential in light of a possible supply for 2019.
And consistent points Toro Rosso’s target. Though the squad knows how to deal with the heavy weight of expectation.
SOUNDBITE (English) PIERRE GASLY,
F1 DRIVER, TORO ROSSO:
“In a way, we are used to the pressure since we are young, you know. When I started in karting, we had the same pressure. I had to deliver results every year, if I wanted to step up, so and yes, since I arrived in Red Bull, you know, that's the way it works. You just, you put pressure on yourself and you need to deal with it.”