Red Bull were “right” to give Pierre Gasly a year in Super Formula before offering him a Formula 1 race-seat, so says Helmut Marko.
Although Gasly had hoped to step up into Formula 1 after winning the 2016 GP2 series title, he was overlooked by Toro Rosso and Red Bull.
Instead he spent last year racing in Japan’s Super Formula championship before being handed what was a trial run in the final five races of the F1 season.
The Frenchman impressed and this season will race for Toro Rosso alongside Brendon Hartley.
Speaking to Autosport, Marko said: “Gasly won the GP2 series in his second year, he had a bit of bad luck but he also made mistakes.
“He matured in Japan, which was absolutely essential.
“He had to learn to care for himself, which was possible there as nobody spoke his language.
“He had to get his way and he actually managed.
“He didn’t win the championship because of this strange storm [that cancelled the Super Formula season finale], but he managed to get his team to the top. He was an absolute winner.
“It was the right decision to give him the time.
“Also Brendon Hartley has improved his character, now he has the experience. We expect both drivers to be in the points regularly in 2018.”
As for who he expects to be the stronger of the two Toro Rosso drivers, Marko says that is difficult to judge given the poor reliability that affected them in late 2017.
“It’s impossible to say [who was better] because of the conditions,” added Marko.
“Toro Rosso had so many engine problems. Both of the drivers were hardly able to drive.
“During a whole race weekend, Gasly hardly did 30 laps, including free practice.
“With Hartley it was similar, but he also had this dual burden (of WEC and F1). He was driving a different car every weekend.
“We will only see the real potential in 2018.”