Gasly feeling confident despite a back grid position and reverting to the...

Gasly feeling confident despite a back grid position and reverting to the previous spec Honda PU

Pierre Gasly
photo: Peter Fox/Red Bull Content Pool

Pierre Gasly was one of the five drivers who did not participate in Q2 in Sochi. He was on 12th position at the end of the session but will be at the back of the grid tomorrow because of engine penalties. His team Toro Rosso decided to revert back to the older Honda power unit despite the initial positive test.

Pierre Gasly

“I think it’s been really positive since we introduced the new engine yesterday, there was some noticeable improvements and we decided to switch the engine back for the rest of the weekend to save some mileage for the end of the season. I’m really happy with the car, this weekend in Sochi I have a great feeling but it’s a shame we need to start at the back of the grid tomorrow after the engine penalty. Looking at last year’s race it seems it might be difficult to overtake here but, with the chassis the way it is, I’m still feeling confident. Tyre degradation will be key tomorrow, so hopefully, we can make something with the strategy, I’ll give a big push and you never know, maybe we can fight our way through for a good result!”

Brendon Hartley

“We didn’t put a lot of emphasis on Qualifying today because of the penalties we will incur tomorrow. Yesterday was a big exercise for Honda introducing a new power unit, but the decision was made not to use it for the rest of the weekend. It is definitely quicker, there’s no question marks there, but we want it to be perfect for Japan and make sure everything works as it should. What also makes it a tough race for us is starting from the back. Our long run pace yesterday looked promising on the Soft tyre, so I think there could still be a bit to play for tomorrow. We’ve seen a few incidents here in the past, it’s a tricky first corner because it tightens up after the long straight off the start line, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow – we will still aim to do our best.”

Guillaume Dezoteux (Head of Vehicle Performance):

“We had a clean final practice session with both cars which allowed us to complete our programmes. Given our situation, we decided to dedicate some more time to long runs which is something we usually don’t do in the Saturday practice session. This allowed both drivers to get a better understanding of their fuel and tyre management in race trim which is our main focus this weekend. Our competitiveness down the straights made a bit of a step back compared to yesterday as we reverted back on the PU specification. This is because there is still work to do in some areas of the new specification, such as calibration and matching the PU to the chassis. We fully support this decision as we will anyway start from the back of the grid here.”

“Our Qualifying session went to plan, and it was good to see Pierre going through with his first attempt. He had a tow from the car in front which helped a bit, but generally, we showed we had the pace to easily progress to Q2. We decided not to take part in Q2 as our positions on the grid are defined by the penalties anyway. Brendon’s Qualifying session was a bit more complicated and unfortunately his first lap was not quick enough to pass through to Q2. In his second attempt, he got a yellow flag from Sirotkin that compromised his lap. Now we will evaluate different options for the race and we are looking forward to fight in the midfield, especially against the cars that will have to start on the softest tyre.”

Toyoharu Tanabe (Honda F1 Technical Director):

“We started the day reverting our newest specification Power Unit back to the older spec that’s been used in previous races – meaning it’s become a busy weekend so far for the Toro Rosso Honda crew. Compared to a normal Saturday, today’s programme was more focused on long-run set-up. However, our performance today was respectable, so we are still optimistic that we can have a good race tomorrow.”