Brendon Hartley is quietly confident about his Toro Rosso Honda’s race pace ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix after a solid qualifying with an updated engine.

Aiming to silence speculation around his place at Toro Rosso coming into this weekend, Hartley produced his best qualifying performance for five races with 12th place to secure a prime position to attack the top 10 with the majority starting on the difficult Hypersoft tyres.

Hartley has played down the impact of Honda’s engine update in qualifying but expects it to make a key difference in the race, hinting at a greater energy storage and deployment over a race distance, and is duly targeting points in Montreal.

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“I feel really good and I know with the engine update the performance gain we had in qualifying was actually very small but there is a bigger potential for the race,” Hartley said. “Looking at China and Azerbaijan the bigger performance step came in the race so I think we can do that tomorrow and definitely fight and set our sights on the points.

“I’m really happy with how the whole weekend has been going. I’ve felt very comfortable in the car all weekend and I’ve been working well with the team to get the set-up feeling good for me. Q1 was very good and Q2 was tricky as I think there was quite big gusts of wind so everyone was struggling in the last corners with crosswinds and it was a little different every lap.

“I felt like there was a tenth or a tenth and a half on the table but everyone had the same issues in the last two corners.

“I think there may have been more pace, P11, but I think the Force India and Renault were out of touch so I was happy with the job I did to get P12. I think FP3 and FP2 I was also P12 so that was more or less our place.”

Hartley is targeting a second-ever F1 points finish after his maiden top 10 result came at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

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