Pierre Gasly was left positive after Friday practice at the Sochi Autodrom, with the Frenchman ending up with the eighth fastest time of the day in free practice two.
The Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda driver had come into the weekend not knowing what kind of performance level to expect from his STR13, but he was encouraged to place inside the top ten, although he knows the grid penalty that is coming his way will mean him starting at or towards the back of the field on Sunday.
The grid penalty is for an unscheduled engine change from Honda, but the Frenchman, who will be racing for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing in 2019 in place of Daniel Ricciardo, was full of praise and thanks to the Japanese engine manufacturer for the step forward they’ve made with the power unit.
“It was a positive day overall, especially after the tough weekend in Singapore it was important to find some answers and try to get our pace back,” said Gasly. “That’s what we did today, plus we tested an upgraded engine which seems to work well, so I think it’s really encouraging for the few races left before the end of the season.
“Thank you to Honda for bringing this. We’ll take a penalty on Sunday and we will start from the back of the grid, so we will try to focus on the race more than Qualifying.”