Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost expects his team to be finishing in the top ten on a consistent basis after Pierre Gasly starred in last weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix.
Gasly shone throughout the weekend in Bahrain, qualifying sixth as best of the rest on Saturday and finishing fourth in Sunday's race. Many predicted Toro Rosso to struggle when it announced it would be using Honda engines, but after a reliable pre-season campaign and a strong start to the season, the Italian squad is confident of repeating its Bahrain heroics later in the season.
"Not a fourth place but I always said within the first ten [races] I expect and later on, this is all about the second half of the season I expect both cars permanently within the first ten that means we qualify in Q3 and in the race because if our development plan from the power unit side and the chassis side goes in the correct direction then we must be there.
"You know what the fourth place today is? It was also lucky, Ricciardo out, Verstappen out, Hamilton had some troubles at the beginning but the race pace was quite good, constant and Pierre did not make any mistakes. The pit-stops went well, that means if these drivers had been in there we could have finished sixth, seventh place without any problems.''
Brendon Hartley's race was disrupted by two incidents with Force India's Sergio Perez. The first took place on the formation lap where Hartley was deemed to be in the wrong position at the first Safety Car line after Perez had overtaken him at the start of the formation lap. The pair then came to blows on the opening lap of the race, which was deemed to be the Kiwi's fault and was subsequently hit with a ten-second time penalty.
Tost is adamant Hartley has shown the pace and competitiveness during his short time in F1 and believes points were possible in Bahrain without the incidents with Perez.
"He can do it. He shows the performance, the competitiveness. Today, the ten-second penalty in my opinion was quite tough because it was not deliberate. He touched Perez but that was the decision from the stewards which we accept and there's nothing to add, otherwise he could have finished in seventh or eighth place.''