Pierre Gasly admits Toro Rosso is likely to face an extremely challenging Italian Grand Prix despite scoring points on Sunday in Belgium.
Honda struggled to be competitive on the long flat-out section of track in Azerbaijan earlier this year and analyzed the Baku race in order to see where it could perform better at Spa-Francorchamps. That work paid off with Gasly (pictured dueling the Force India of Esteban Ocon) qualifying 11th and finishing ninth on a power-sensitive circuit, and the Frenchman says the result shows an improvement from earlier this year.
“We know with the Ferrari and the new upgraded engine they have [Haas] are pretty fast down the straights,” he noted. “So all the first and last sector we are lacking compared to them, but on the other side drivability and reliability have been really strong all weekend and Honda is coming with some upgrades for the rest of the season.
“So, looking at the positives if we are able to finish in the top 10 at such a track it means we have done some progress since the beginning of the year, so I am pretty happy with it.”
Instead of being encouraged for this weekend’s race at Monza as a result, Gasly says Toro Rosso is expecting to be far less competitive in Italy.
“Monza will be another story. I think it was really good to score these points [in Spa] but we know Monza is Monza. It’s not like you just need to be fast on the straight, but if you’re fast on the straights it makes 90% of the lap.
“So even if we are improving we know we are still slower than the Mercedes, the Ferrari and the Renault, even if we are catching a little bit. So it’s going to be a difficult one.
“Honestly Monza will be very, very, very difficult to score points. We don’t expect a great performance there. We still need to find more performance in a straight line but nevertheless we never know what can happen.
“Turn 1 [in Spa], many cars crashed, and if we have the opportunity we will take it as usual. I don’t want to be a pessimist but on paper it doesn’t look like the track in our favor but we’ll give it everything we have and see where we are.”