Pierre Gasly reckons ninth place in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship does not reflect “all the potential” Toro Rosso had during the 2018 season.

A switch to Honda power proved promising as the Japanese engine manufacturer made solid gains over the winter following its disastrous McLaren tie-up, with Gasly able to record a brilliant fourth-place finish at the second round in Bahrain.

Despite an encouraging start to 2018, strong development from Toro Rosso’s midfield rivals across the remainder of the campaign resulted in the Faenza outfit slipping to ninth - ahead of only Williams - having been pipped by Sauber and the rebranded Force India squad late in the year.

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“It is not the target that we had at the beginning of the season,” Gasly admitted.

“We knew it would be difficult with Honda coming, so we didn’t really want to have any expectations in terms of final position in the team championship.

“This season has been so close in the midfield, from one weekend to another we could see there was no fourth best team by far, while starting the year in Melbourne ours was much better than the others.

“It was always mixed in that midfield, but a couple of times we managed to make the best out of the package we had, and some others we were slower than all these teams,” he added.

“We didn’t finish like 50 points behind all the others and it is super close in that midfield but in the end it is a bit disappointing - I’m not sure it reflects all the potential we had.

“Just talking about Honda there is clearly a step and we showed it this year. But the absolute result is maybe not what we wanted.”

Gasly, who will graduate to the Red Bull senior squad that has favoured Honda power over Renault from 2019 as replacement for the Enstone-bound Daniel Ricciardo, singled out Bahrain as the clear highlight of his season.

“Bahrain was this kind of feeling that I could not believe what was happening,” Gasly explained.

“Especially with the following races and when you look at the overall performance of the package we had, it is still difficult to understand how we managed to get that fourth place in Bahrain.

“It was so unexpected that it is a bit like when you get a surprise from your friend or your family, you don’t expect something, and it always makes you even more happy.”

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