Pierre Gasly has admitted his weekend in Bahrain will not have hurt his quest for a top seat in formula one. Toro Rosso's rookie Frenchman stunned the F1 world by qualifying sixth and finishing fourth -- Honda's best result since its return to the sport over three years ago.
And Gasly, 22, had already been linked with a potential move to Red Bull next year to replace Daniel Ricciardo. When asked if Bahrain gives that quest a boost, he answered: "I don't want to think about it now, but a little later I'll analyse everything."
Gasly's path to F1 was not straightforward. He won the GP2 title in 2016 but Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko sent him instead to Japan's Super Formula, ruling that he was not ready for F1. "My way here was not easy, but in the end I was always in the top three in all the junior series I did," said Gasly.
"Now I'm with very experienced and talented drivers and I cannot make a mistake. It was a very important experience to stand on the grid next to Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas. They've been in F1 a long time and it's my seventh grand prix. I have a lot to learn but Bahrain helped me a lot," he added.
As for what Red Bull supremo Marko told him after Bahrain, Gasly answered: "He said I did a great race, but I knew that already! The smile on Helmut's face was really great to see."
But for now, Gasly is an important part of Toro Rosso and Honda, the Japanese carmaker that is rebuilding after the McLaren nightmare. "Honda has made great progress, but it's difficult to compare them to other manufacturers," he said. "I don't want to mention numbers, but it's obvious that they made a big step forward."
Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost added: "We didn't expect fourth place in the second race. But we were always told by Honda that we can expect a good result within the first ten races." (GMM)