Pierre Gasly says Honda’s most recent power unit upgrade will be crucial to any hopes Toro Rosso has of overhauling Sauber in the constructors’ championship.
Sauber moved ahead of Toro Rosso for the first time courtesy of a double-points finish in Mexico City, with Charles Leclerc seventh ahead of teammate Marcus Ericsson in ninth. Gasly scored Toro Rosso’s only point of that race in 10th place and the Honda-powered team now sits three points adrift of Sauber, but the Frenchman is confident in the latest specification of power unit that is set to be used in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
“For the championship, I think Sauber are really fast and (in Mexico) they were clearly faster, at least with the package we had,” Gasly said. “I want to be optimistic that with the new engine, from the next race, with the new aero package, we’re going to be able to close the gap to them.
“We’re three points behind — it’s still really close, but clearly they have good pace. They improved a lot, they’re consistently in Q3 and fighting for the points, while we’re much more inconsistent. We’ll give everything and it will be nice to finish the season in that eighth place.
“Touch wood, this was the last penalty we had until the end of the year, that’s why we did it (in Mexico), to have two engines in the pool for the last two races, so, hopefully we’ll be fine and we should be able to start the races from our normal qualifying positions. And with some more performance I think we should be quite optimistic.”
On the other side of the battle, Leclerc is wary of Sauber letting its lead slip over the final two races but says the team has been focused on Toro Rosso for a while.
“That is a huge deal, especially for the team because that represents a lot of money for the team and for the development of it is extremely important,” Leclerc said. “It’s not done yet — there are still two races to go and we need to make sure that we keep them behind — but I think our recent form of performance is good and I hope we can keep it.
“As a team, I think we approach it basing ourselves a little bit on Toro Rosso, because at the end of the day it’s the team we are fighting with.”