Franz Tost believes both Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley have not had the chance to show their true potential in Formula 1 but will deliver in 2018.
Toro Rosso made a number of changes to its driver line-up during the latter half of last season, with Gasly replacing Daniil Kvyat in Malaysia and Japan before Hartley took over Carlos Sainz’s seat for the final four races. The two drivers were only paired together for the final three rounds before being confirmed as the team’s 2018 line-up, and Tost says it would be unfair to judge them on the end of 2017.
“It was a difficult period of time for them to come into Formula 1 because our car was not as competitive as it was at the beginning of the season,” Tost told RACER. “We brought new parts and upgrades to the tracks but it looks like our direct competitors did a better job.
“On top of that we were suffering with reliability issues, which meant they always had to start from the back of the grid, which doesn’t make it easier.
“To come into Formula 1 during a season is always a difficult task because all the other drivers did thousands of kilometers in their cars – they are used to the cars, they know the team and they know everything. To then come in as a newcomer makes life quite complicated.”
Looking ahead to 2018, Tost says he is excited to see what Gasly and Hartley can do over a full season, pointing to past achievements as the source of his optimism.
“I must say that both drivers are really fast. If you look at the history of the two drivers, Pierre won the F2 championship and then last year lost the Super Formula championship in Japan by just half a point. You can see he has the speed, so therefore I am very confident having him in the team.
“Brendon was very successful with Porsche in winning the championship twice and also winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans. You mustn’t forget he had a race every weekend at the end of last season. One weekend was Formula 1 and the next was LMP1. These are completely different cars in terms of the handling but also the tires, and it’s not so easy for a driver to jump from one car into another car.
“Brendon is doing a really good job. He was improving his performance from run to run and it was really very important for both drivers to do the races at the end of the season just so they are aware of what they can expect this coming season. Then they are also aware of where to work themselves.
“Generally speaking, I must say I am more than happy with both of the drivers because I think they have a lot of potential and if we, as a team, provide them with a good, competitive car, then they will be there. I am convinced about this.”