Pierre Gasly believes his qualifying heroics in Bahrain -- where he earned himself a career-best fifth position on the grid for Sunday's race -- showed how well Toro Rosso is working with new engine supplier Honda.
Toro Rosso took Honda's engine supply for 2018 after the Japanese company was dumped by McLaren at the end of last season. The team endured a difficult start to the year, with Gasly retiring with engine trouble in Australia, forcing both cars forced to take new components for Bahrain.
However Gasly starred in qualifying, progressing through to the top-ten shootout and then finishing as 'best of the rest' in Q3.
When asked how important it was for him to have a full pre-season to prepare for this season, after being parachuted in to the team late in 2017, he said: "Last year wasn't ideal. I didn't know anyone in the team and I came in the car straight for my first FP1 and I had to deliver so it was pretty tough.
"This year yeah definitely I had much more time, I had the testing, much more days in the car to get a good feeling, comfortable with it. I can feel it, I am much more ready. I think the main thing is that Toro Rosso is doing an amazing job with Honda. No one expected us to be competitive at the beginning of the year so they seem to work pretty well between Italians and Japanese, and that's good to see."
He was then asked if he took extra satisfaction from beating both McLarens into Q3, he smiled and said: "I didn't say it on the radio, but yeah, for sure."
Although Toro Rosso has introduced some small upgrades for the second race of the year, Gasly says no-one in the team expected such an impressive performance.
"We didn't expect it to be fair. I mean, the car was fantastic in the beginning of the weekend. We saw that we had some good potential but to be P6 in qualifying is just amazing. I am just really happy. I think we need to go through the data to understand why we were so fast today. We had small upgrades on the car but it seems to work much better than what we expected."