Pierre Gasly admits Toro Rosso and Honda found it satisfying to out-perform McLaren in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Toro Rosso took on Honda power units for this season after McLaren’s switch to Renault in the wake of a disastrous three-year spell with the Japanese engine manufacturer. 

While Fernando Alonso claimed fifth in Melbourne’s season-opener as Toro Rosso endured a tough start to life with Honda following a promising pre-season, the Faenza-based squad turned the tables on McLaren in qualifying in Bahrain.

Gasly made it into Q3 and set the sixth-fastest time, nearly a full second clear of the McLaren duo led by Alonso in 13th, with teammate Brendon Hartley narrowly missing out on a spot in the top 10 shootout by less than 0.1s. 

When asked if he found it satisfying to out-perform both McLaren drivers in qualifying, Gasly replied: “I didn’t say it on the radio, but yeah, for sure.

“It was the best lap I have done in Formula 1. I had one chance in Q3 with my new tyres. I knew that I had to do the lap, and if I would do like a really good lap, it could put us in a really good position. 

“For sure I didn’t expect to be P6. But when I crossed the lap, I was like ‘OK, I have done and I have given everything I had’. 

“It was just a great feeling when they told me I was P6. I think also on my side, I’m getting more and more comfortable on the car, session after session.”

Toro Rosso has been bolstered by the introduction of a new aerodynamic package in Bahrain, though Gasly credited his team’s impressive turnaround in performance as being mostly down to a direction change in set-up. 

“It’s mainly on the setup, we have changed quite a lot our philosophy. Melbourne is really special, it's so bumpy and you need to change the setup quite massively for that track. 

“Here we came back a bit more closer to what we had in Barcelona, and found some good and interesting directions on the setup. I've just felt super-comfortable with the car since FP1 and managed to show some good potential in the beginning. 

“We managed to improve the car session after session. I’m especially happy for the team, because they are working really hard. Also for Honda, it’s good to show them that all the hard work is starting to pay off, and that they need to keep pushing and keep giving us some upgrades.”

Gasly will start Sunday's race from fifth on the grid, after Lewis Hamilton is demoted five positions for taking on a new gearbox in his Mercedes. 

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