After three of years of listening to McLaren bitch about their bad luck with Honda engines, Toro Rosso figured that they could work with the Japanese manufacturer to make their car successful. We all called them crazy when the Red Bull junior team paired with Honda for 2018, but in only the team’s second race with the engine, Pierre Gasly stuck up a (metaphorical) middle finger to the haters. By hauling the car up into Qualifying 3, starting the race in 5th, and racing his way to 4th by the time the checkered flag fell, he managed more with that engine than even Fernando Alonso could.
Gasly was aided in his efforts by the failure of both Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Räikkönen, who had qualified ahead. He certainly was not the fastest car on the circuit, either, finishing over a minute down to the leader, and running a slightly slower personal best lap time than teammate Brendon Hartley. He did manage, however, to stay on the lead lap, which only the top six cars can boast. The team had a good strategy, and Pierre’s qualifying efforts the prior day certainly helped.
While the team suffered a double failure in Australia a couple of weeks ago, they’ve rebounded in the best way possible, putting in one of their best races in years. It does good to remember that 2018 is Gasly’s first full season in Formula 1, having run only five races last year. The twelve-year-old team has only one victory in its tenure, the rainy Italian Grand Prix of 2008 with a young Sebastian Vettel. Something tells me this feels almost as good as that moment a decade ago. They put in a hell of an effort, and they beat the legendary McLaren with the engine they threw away.
Who does McLaren have left to blame this season?