Post-Bahrain expectations for Toro Rosso unjustified – Hartley

Brendon Hartley says Toro Rosso’s outstanding performance in the second round of the championship in Bahrain fueled unjustified expectations for the Faenza-based outfit.

Hartley’s team mate Pierre Gasly scored a remarkable fourth-place finish at Sakhir, generating a perception that Toro Rosso and Honda would be a force to be reckoned with in the midfield this year.

While the junior Red Bull squad also scored points in Baku – thanks to Hartley’s P10 finish – and Monaco, Toro Rosso’s performance has lacked consistency overall, with the Kiwi insisting its Bahrain form had been the result of perfect circumstances playing into the hands of the Italian outfit.

“It’s very fair to say that we over exceeded all of our expectations in Bahrain,” Hartley told Motorsport.com.

“Our brief before the start of the season was, ‘Look guys, the first few races are going to be really tough for us’.

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“We spent all of this time and energy incorporating Honda and there has been a lot of changes behind the scenes in aerodynamics, we’ve probably taken one step back to take two step forwards later in the season,” he added.

“[Then we go] to Bahrain and blew all of our expectations out of the water, and probably for everyone else as well they would have expected that again.”

Toro Rosso’s subsequent struggles after Bahrain compelled the team to understand exactly why it had been able to punch above its weight at the desert venue.

“We seem to be very light on tyres and I think in Bahrain we got them in the perfect window, others didn’t,” said the 28-year-old.

“We’re poor on aero sensitivity and there was no wind. Since then we haven’t had the pace in the race.”

Hartley is hopeful of a good showing in Montreal however, where the team’s STR13 will be powered by an updated Honda unit.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel, an update on the floor and an engine upgrade coming for Montreal.

“Everyone’s motivated, working hard, but I think in some ways that result in Bahrain added all this expectation that maybe shouldn’t have been there.

“But that’s Formula 1 and you see other teams struggling from one week to the other as well.”

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