Gasly gives Red Bull something to savour on wasted weekend

Despite a disastrous race weekend in Bahrain, Red Bull will take heart from the performance of Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly.

Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly.   -  Getty Images

​Red Bull's Bahrain Grand Prix unravelled just two laps into Sunday's race.

At almost the precise moment Max Verstappen sustained a puncture in a coming together with Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo suffered a complete electrical shutdown that ended his involvement.

The double retirement left Red Bull - full of optimism that they could challenge Mercedes and Ferrari this season - packing up their garage with race having barely started.

But the weekend was not a complete write-off, as Pierre Gasly announced himself as the next driver off the Red Bull production line with a remarkable fourth-place finish for junior team Toro Rosso.

Gasly's performance at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix had offered little clue as to the heroics he would perform in Bahrain, the Frenchman qualifying last before retiring from the race with an engine problem at Albert Park.

But not only did Gasly produce a vastly improved qualifying performance to start fifth in Bahrain, he carried his momentum into the race to claim the first points finish of his fledgling F1 career.

The retirements of Verstappen, Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen obviously contributed to his lofty position, but his ability to hold off Toro Rosso's midfield rivals was mightily impressive.

Gasly's result is made all the more remarkable by the struggles of engine supplier Honda over recent seasons, their unhappy three-year relationship with McLaren having come to an end before the start of this season.

The Japanese manufacturer - arguably more so than Gasly - has something to prove this year, and will have revelled in outperforming the Renault-powered McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne on Sunday.

"It's unbelievable," said Gasly after the race. "We never expected something like this, so yeah, just super happy about it.

"For the team it feels like [a win]. It's the best result for Honda as well since they came back. I think the people in Japan, I don't know what time it is now, but they must be super happy about it.

"It's just great. They had a tough couple of years. It's a great way to motivate them and show them they need to be pushing. We did a massive step this weekend."

Toro Rosso have a history of supplying drivers to their parent team, with Sebastian Vettel, Ricciardo and Verstappen all among the drivers to have graduated from the junior outfit, and there will be great hope that Gasly - a former GP2 champion - can be the next.

Ricciardo, whose Red Bull contract expires at the end of this season, had to deny reports he had signed a pre-contract agreement to join Vettel at Ferrari this weekend.

But as the Australian's car was being packed up for China amid lingering doubts over his future, a seemingly natural replacement was making a convincing case for promotion out on track.

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