Pierre Gasly’s fourth place finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix and the performance the team showed throughout that weekend created unrealistic expectations for Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda, according to his team-mate Brendon Hartley.
Gasly has only scored points once more since the race at the beginning of April, while Hartley has only one point to his name across the opening six races thanks to his tenth place finish in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
2018 is the first year since Honda became Toro Rosso’s power unit supplier and that early result in Bahrain, just their second race weekend together, put some additional external pressure on the team to perform to that standard on a regular basis, something that had not been manageable in the races thereafter.
“It’s very fair to say that we over exceeded all of our expectations in Bahrain,” said Hartley to Motorsport.com. “Our brief before the start of the season was, ‘Look guys, the first few races are going to be really tough for us’.
“We spent all of this time and energy incorporating Honda and there has been a lot of changes behind the scenes in aerodynamics, we’ve probably taken one step back to take two step forwards later in the season.
“[Then we go] to Bahrain and blew all of our expectations out of the water, and probably for everyone else as well they would have expected that again.”
Hartley feels the way Toro Rosso got their tyres to work in Bahrain went a long way in creating the strong result, but subsequent races have seen the team struggle, with the New Zealander saying the STR13 struggles less when there is no wind.
However, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for Hartley and Toro Rosso with a recent floor update coming for the Monaco Grand Prix, which is being followed this weekend by a Honda engine update that he hopes will see a more competitive performance in the Canadian Grand Prix.
“We seem to be very light on tyres and I think in Bahrain we got them in the perfect window, others didn’t,” said Hartley. “We’re poor on aero sensitivity and there was no wind.
“Since then we haven’t had the pace in the race. There is light at the end of the tunnel, an update on the floor [introduced in Monaco] and an engine upgrade coming for Montreal.
“Everyone’s motivated, working hard, but I think in some ways that result in Bahrain added all this expectation that maybe shouldn’t have been there.
“But that’s Formula 1 and you see other teams struggling from one week to the other as well.”