Gasly says Toro Rosso ‘exactly how I want it’ after strong first day in Italy
Pierre Gasly has declared himself delighted with his Toro Rosso on his return to the Italian team, admitting that he was now relishing a scrap from the back of the pack in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix after a strong first day at Monza.
It’s only the second race back at Toro Rosso for Gasly since his summer break demotion from Red Bull. But according to the Frenchman, who finished both of Friday's free practice sessions at Monza in the top 10, he's managed to get his STR14 set-up just how he likes it ahead of Sunday's race.
And while he’ll start that race from the back of the grid, having taken the Spec 4 Honda power unit along with Max Verstappen, at least Monza is the ideal circuit to overtake on...
“It was a good day for us,” said a visibly upbeat Gasly after finishing seventh in FP2, a session punctuated by intermittent rain. “It was good to drive for the first time in the wet in the Toro Rosso and just get a feel for it, so it was good in FP1 and then in FP2 for the dry we were pretty competitive so it was good to get the seventh-fastest time.”
Gasly went on to say that his car was in that elusive “sweet spot”, which bodes well for the riveting recovery from the rear that Gasly will hope to execute on Sunday.
“The car feels good, the long runs very strong and we need to keep up the good work and focus on the race on our side on Sunday. After today I must say I felt really good in the car and we managed to get the car exactly how I want it. It was clearly particular conditions – cold conditions – so we’ll see on Sunday, but if we manage to keep the car in that sweet spot we could have an exciting race,” he explained.
A potential help to Gasly in Sunday's race will be the strong slipstream effect at Monza, with the Frenchman having experimented with running behind other cars on Friday.
“Today I’ve started with no slipstream, with slipstream, so it’s quite interesting, depending on the gap, the gains you can make whether you are on the straights or the corners,” he said.
Easily forgotten, but this is also Toro Rosso’s home race as the team are based in Faenza, Italy, although they haven’t quite enjoyed the success of fellow homecoming heroes Ferrari on this track, having failed to score a point at Monza since the start of the hybrid era in 2014. But with an improved Honda power unit and the confidence of a re-energised Gasly, perhaps Sunday could signal the end of that drought.