Pierre Gasly tested a new front wing and updated floor during practice for the United States Grand Prix but, with running limited by poor weather, the Frenchman wasn’t comfortable enough to use the parts in anger, taking them off his car in time for qualifying. But with Toro Rosso desperate to keep their noses ahead of Sauber in the constructors’ race, Brendon Hartley will be giving the parts another go at the Mexican Grand Prix weekend to see if he can get them dialled in.
Gasly explained the decision to take the parts off the car in Austin, saying: “It wasn’t ideal with the weather conditions, so we had a new package that we could not run until [Free Practice 3] and yeah, basically, we need more mileage, more running with this one to really understand how to use the package and extract the full potential.”
But instead of Gasly trying the upgrade package again – and because Toro Rosso only have one set of the updated parts – it’s Hartley who will be the guinea pig at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez throughout the weekend.
“There’s a lot for the engineers to look at, data-wise,” said the New Zealander ahead of Friday’s running – which, as in Austin, is expected to be rain-affected. “I think Pierre wasn’t happy with the balance in FP3 when he ran the aero, so I think that’s partly why they removed it.
"I think it’s going to be interesting to see how it performs tomorrow, if we can get any more performance out of it. And then in terms of the rest of the weekend, I think there’s not a clear plan yet. It really depends how tomorrow goes.”
Providing they can get enough dry running in, Toro Rosso will be hoping that the upgrade can bring them some improved performance, with a brace of ninth places – Gasly’s in Belgium and Hartley’s in Texas – their only points finishes since racing returned after Formula 1’s summer break.
The team now sit just four points clear of Sauber in the constructors’ championship, with just three races left to run this season.