Formula One: Red Bull-bound Pierre Gasly is raring to go for his maiden S'pore Grand Prix

Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly competes during the qualifying session at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza, Italy, on Sept 1, 2018.
Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly competes during the qualifying session at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza, Italy, on Sept 1, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Even for someone who is used to driving at high speeds, Pierre Gasly has had quite a whirlwind ride the last 12 months.

The Toro Rosso driver's Formula One journey began in Malaysia just under a year ago and gathered pace in just the second race of his first full season where he finished an impressive fourth in Bahrain.

The Frenchman's star is set to rise higher after he was announced as a replacement at the Red Bull senior team for Renault-bound Daniel Ricciardo next season.

"Great things have happened in the last 12 months for sure. Racing is so unpredictable and I didn't expect to be fighting for fourth place in Bahrain so that was a big boost for the team and myself," said the 22-year-old on Wednesday (Sept 12) at a launch event for Casio Edifice watches at the Conrad Centennial Singapore.

"I've had to learn a lot, but I feel a lot more comfortable in the car now. Hopefully the next 12 months will be as good."

He is relishing his first taste of the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix this week.

"Singapore is one of my favourite races on the PlayStation so I'm really looking forward to this weekend," he said. "It will be a challenge, but that's what makes it more exciting for me."

His fast start in F1 has been helped by the fledgling partnership between Toro Rosso and engine maker Honda this year.

Last season was a troubled one for the Japanese manufacturer but it appears to have gotten its act together. Improved performances have prompted Red Bull to make the switch to Honda engines for next season.

"Everything has been different this year. We have had perfect communication with the Toro Rosso team and the drivers," said Honda's motor sports head Masashi Yamamoto.

"It's not just the car and the power unit we put together, but also the talent of the driver (Gasly). We look forward to a much better future."

Gasly is bracing for the future as team-mate of the mercurial Max Verstappen, who is younger by two years but is into his fourth F1 season. The pair have known each other since their karting days and Gasly is expecting a friendly rivalry to develop.

He said: "We have a lot of respect for each other.

"In racing, you always want to fight against the best and Max is probably one of the most talented drivers on the grid so I'm really happy to be next to him.

"You always want to beat each other. Since I was a little kid, as long as I play something, I always want to win and it's the same for him."