Constructors’ championship | 33 points (9th)
Toro Rosso are well known to be Red Bull’s B team and they became the sacrificial lambs as the season went on because of the confirmation of the senior team’s deal with Honda.
Overall though, it was a solid season for STR and the Japanese company. There weren’t lots as many issues for Honda like we saw with McLaren from 2015-2017 and they seemingly worked quite well together.
In terms of general speed, it was very hit and miss throughout the year for the Italian team. For example, Gasly qualified a sensational P6 (started P5) in Bahrain but then ended down in 17th in qualifying at the next event in Shanghai.
They will have been disappointed to lose 8th in the standings to Sauber so late in the season.
Like a number of teams, they’ll have a completely different driver pairing next year. The goal will surely be to challenge the front-runners in the midfield more regularly.
Pierre Gasly | 29 points (15th)
Two years ago, Pierre Gasly looked like he would never reach F1. Now, following some excellent performances this year, he’ll move up to Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen for 2019.
As mentioned above, the Frenchman put in a sensational performance in Bahrain to qualify 6th. It got even better on race day with the retirements of Raikkonen and the Red Bulls to claim a remarkable 4th place finish. Following a tough weekend for him in Australia, it was an even bigger surprise.
Gasly very much held the upper hand over team-mate Brendon Hartley as he comfortably outqualified (13-6) and outscored (29-4) him in 2018. He also spent 370 laps in the top 10 vs 72 for his team-mate.
The French driver managed to make Q3 on six occasions across the year, with Monaco and Monza the standouts alongside Bahrain.
His other outstanding race was at the Hungarian Grand Prix when he finished best of the rest to claim an outstanding 6th. It underlined his quality and proved the result at Sakhir wasn’t a flash in the pan.
Towards the end of the year, things that got a little heated with Hartley as he ignored multiple calls from his engineer in Brazil to let the Kiwi through in the closing stages. It looks like he possesses similar attributes to his future team-mate.
2018 has shown us that Gasly has good speed and put in some excellent performances.
However, the big question is: Can he challenge the unbelievably talented Max Verstappen who blew Ricciardo away after Monaco? It seems unlikely, but we’ll find out next year.
Brendon Hartley | 4 points (19th)
It was always going to be an extremely difficult transition from WEC to F1 for the New Zealander and so it happened. He really struggled to extract the maximum from the car and tyres, particularly in the first half of the year.
Hartley certainly wasn’t helped by grid penalties, either. At France, Austria, Russia and the United States, he was forced to start at the back of the field because he exceeded the amount of power unit components allowed.
Heavy crashes in FP3 at Spain (driver error) and Silverstone (suspension failure) were another two races where he started at the rear of the pack after missing qualifying.
The Kiwi did put in a couple of impressive qualifying efforts. He did a great job to start 8th in Hungary and then delivered a sensational lap in tricky conditions during Q3 at Japan to be P6 on the grid.
As well as the grid penalties, a lack of pace on race day (especially the first half of the season) and some questionable strategies hurt him this year. It must be said he got much closer to Gasly towards the end of 2018.
However, he lost all the key battles by a fair margin.
His four points were claimed in Azerbaijan, Germany and the US – COTA probably being the best of the lot with a great drive from the back of the grid to P9.
Despite getting feistier and more aggressive in the closing stages of 2018, Toro Rosso dropped him for Alexander Albon and his F1 career is seemingly over after a single full season.
Gasly vs Hartley
Qualifying head-to-head: 13-6