Pierre Gasly believes that Toro Rosso Red Bull Honda‘s performance at the Japanese Grand Prix just over a week ago showed “real progress” heading into the final rounds of the season.
Gasly qualified directly behind team-mate Brendon Hartley in seventh place at the Suzuka International Race Course – Honda‘s home event – but could not transform an excellent Saturday into a points finish, following a slow pitstop.
Despite this, Gasly hopes that the upwards trajectory will continue this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, the home of the United States Grand Prix.
“We saw in qualifying in Japan that our car has made a good step forward and our pace was good in the race,” Gasly reflected.
“So we have made real progress and I hope that continues in the United States.”
This year’s US Grand Prix will mark the Frenchman’s Formula 1 debut in America, having only appeared as a non-running third driver for parent team and future employers, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. Previous to that, Gasly’s only experience of racing in the country came at “a karting race in Las Vegas”.
Previewing the challenge posed by CoTA, Gasly’s first impressions are that it is one of the more “technical” tracks on the calendar.
“I have come to Austin as a third driver for Red Bull Racing but I’ve never driven the track there, so this will be my first time,” he explained.
“It looks like a really technical track and most drivers reckon it’s one of the best of the year. I’m looking forward to my first race weekend there.”
Last year, Gasly had to yield his then-newly acquired Toro Rosso seat back to Daniil Kvyat for the Texan race – after Honda bosses insisted that the 22-year-old participated in the final round of the Super Formula Championship at Suzuka. His chance of a series win in his rookie year was quashed by Typhoon Lan, that halted all running after qualifying, losing out to Hiroaki Ishiura by half a point.
“[In 2017] I would have been racing in Austin, but it clashed with the final round of the Super Formula Championship at Suzuka in Japan,” he added.
“I had a chance of winning that, but the race was cancelled because of the bad weather; so it wasn’t the best weekend for me!”
Gasly stands fourteenth in the Drivers’ Championship, three points behind compatriot Romain Grosjean with four rounds remaining.