James Key was delighted to see just how strong the Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda team were during Qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Pierre Gasly set to start fifth on the grid on Sunday.
The team brought an upgraded package to Bahrain, and in the hands of Gasly, the STR13 became the best of the rest behind the top three teams, while team-mate Brendon Hartley also used the upgrade for the first time on Saturday to qualify eleventh.
Key, Toro Rosso’s technical director, said the upgrades brought to the Bahrain International Circuit have given the team a good performance boost, and it gives them hope for the upcoming races.
“We came to this event after quite a bit of work since the race in Australia on chassis setup and quite a lot of new aero developments, both of these seem to have worked well and given the steps in performance we hoped for,” said Key.
“We ran the aero package and chassis setup items with Pierre on Friday and got some useful data and feedback, moving Brendon to the same approach today which had a similarly positive effect. It’s good to see we’re back on track compared to the first race and closer to where we want to be, we have a better basis to move forwards from now.”
Key praised both drivers for their performance during Qualifying, with Gasly advancing to his first ever top ten shootout and Hartley only missing out on joining him by a tenth of a second.
“I’d like to congratulate Pierre for his first Q3 – he did a fantastic job today – he’s been comfortable with the car all weekend and this translated to a strong performance this evening,” said Key. “It is a very tight field right now so to put the laps together like he did was a great effort from him.
“Similarly, well done to Brendon for a good performance today, it’s a shame he missed out by less than a tenth to get into Q3; he only had one run on new tyres in Q2 and unfortunately it was just shy of the time needed to get through, but nonetheless he’s made really good progress today and I think we start tomorrow in a good position with both cars.”