Toro Rosso wary of engine part ‘headache’

Date published: January 19 2018

As Formula 1 prepares for a season with fewer penalty-free engine parts, Franz Tost admits it could be a “headache” for Toro Rosso and new engine partner Honda.

This season Formula 1 has reduced the number of engine parts permitted before drivers begin to incur penalties.

The number of ICEs, MGU-Hs and turbochargers is down to three while each car may only use two MGU-Ks, batteries and control units.

Given Honda’s wretched reliability over the past three years, Tost concedes that could yet prove to be a problem for Toro Rosso.

“That depends primarily on how Honda keeps their durability under control but clearly, it will not be easier,” Tost told SpeedWeek when asked for his thoughts on the reduced number of parts.

“This reduced number of units will give us a bit of a headache.”

Tost, though, insists there is cause for optimism.

“Nobody will disagree when I say: Honda offers a fantastic infrastructure. There are also very clever and highly motivated technicians.

“The shortcomings of the past are recognised, and everyone is about to eliminate them.”

Gasly wants reliable start to testing

Date published: January 15 2018

Pierre Gasly is hoping Honda come out of the starting blocks with a reliable engine as the teams have just eight days of pre-season testing in order to get up to speed for 2018.

This season Toro Rosso will race Honda engines having taken over from McLaren as the Japanese manufacturer’s sole F1 team. McLaren in turn have signed with Toro Rosso’s first partner Renault.

It is a move that could open doors for senior team Red Bull Racing, providing them with a second engine option down the line.

However, for now it is on Toro Rosso to help Honda resolve the many issues that have held them back over the past three years.

Gasly, though, is just hoping for a reliable start to testing.

“Testing will be very busy with a lot of work to do, especially as we have a new engine partner,” Gasly said. 

“The important thing at the test will be to have a reliable package so we can do as many laps as possible and get a good understanding of where we are with the car, the engine and how the package is planned to evolve. 

“There are only eight days of testing before Australia and that really isn’t very much.”

February date for Mc-Honda doc series

Date published: January 12 2018

Amazon Prime have revealed that all episodes of the new documentary series, ‘Grand Prix Driver’, will be available to stream from February 9.

Grand Prix Driver goes behind-the-scenes of McLaren’s final and fatal year with Honda starting with their disastrous showing at the pre-season tests and finishing with the announcement of their divorce in Singapore back in September.

Actor Michael Douglas has narrated the series, while Manish Pandey and Asif Kapadia – who made the Ayrton Senna documentary – also form part of the crew charting McLaren-Honda’s downfall.

“It’s no secret that this has been the most difficult season in McLaren’s history and it would have been easy for them to close the doors on us,” said Pandey.

“Instead, the team trusted Prime members to understand the mind-blowing complexity of modern Formula 1 and to recognize that all competitors take falls – but only great champions get up again, fight and win.”

Fans will be able to go behind closed doors as the crew were given access to key meetings which eventually led to McLaren and Honda going their separate ways.

Marko: Honda could spring surprise in 2018

Date published: January 3 2018

Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko thinks Toro Rosso and Honda could gel together quicker than expected and spring a surprise in 2018.

There is a general sense of trepidation as Toro Rosso and Honda embark on a new journey given the latter’s ill-fated three-year spell with McLaren which was riddled with unreliability and performance issues.

And, while the Japanese manufacturer quietly improved in the second half of the 2017 season, Marko believes it could be great timing for the Red Bull junior team to start this new partnership.

“We are very happy with the Toro Rosso and Honda co-operation,” Marko told Formula One’s official website. “Toro Rosso will put all its efforts into making a competitive chassis.

“We do believe in Honda otherwise we wouldn’t have made that deal. I am very impressed with the facilities that they have and their determination to win.

“It is just a matter of bringing everything together and we believe that this moment will arrive sooner than everybody is expecting. We will observe very closely – beyond 2018 everything is open.”

Attention turning back to the senior team, Marko has said that Red Bull are looking to start the season strongly straight from the off and have made changes in order to break their usual spell of late-season competitiveness.

“We have learned our lesson from this year: we will not show up at the Barcelona tests with a non-competitive chassis,” he added.

“We have changed our schedule and how we approach the winter preparations.

“F1 is a competition and if they [Mercedes and Ferrari] are better then we have to work harder.

“It should be better if we have a reliable power unit, and if we have more horsepower then we should come nearer to Mercedes. It will be an exciting season, that is for sure.”

McLaren ‘absolutely’ open to Honda return

Date published: December 22 2017

The ink has barely dried on their divorce papers, but McLaren would happily return to Honda in the future and race with them again.

2017 marked the end of the duo’s disastrous three-year relationship with McLaren joining forces with Renault after breaking their 10-year contract with Honda, who will supply Toro Rosso instead next season.

But McLaren director Zak Brown is open to working with Honda again as he claims that they have always maintained an excellent relationship with the Japanese manufacturer.

“We are grateful to Honda,” Brown told Sky Sports.

“They’re a great company, with great people, and the relationship was always strong.

“The relationship still is strong. Wouldn’t rule out racing with them again, wish them the best but we needed to make some tough decisions to do what’s in our best interest.”

When asked again if McLaren would work with Honda again, he reiterated: “Oh of course, absolutely.”

Key: Fitting Honda unit requires ‘a lot of work’

Date published: December 15 2017

Toro Rosso’s technical boss James Key has spoken about the challenges the team has faced in implementing the Honda engine ahead of the 2018 season.

The Red Bull junior team are embarking on a new journey with the Japanese manufacturer as previous suppliers Renault head off to McLaren.

And although the move has not necessarily meant that Toro Rosso have had to design their car from scratch again, a lot of work has gone into making sure that the car is adapted to the changes.

“We try and stick to a rule that, if a car has already been in a development process for a while, not to upset any major items such as aero surfaces and that sort of thing, so we’re not starting from scratch in too many areas,” Key told Motorsport.com.

“We’ve adapted the car under the skin as best we can. And that’s led to quite a different approach to the chassis design, to the way the gearbox works, and so on.

“We’ve carried over the concepts and developed them further from this year’s car.”

He also added to Speed Week: “It’s a very compact unit, but a different architecture to the Renault, it requires a lot of adaptation work.

McLaren afraid of staff exits in Honda struggle

Date published: December 14 2017

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has said that he feared a staff exodus at the team as their struggles with Honda continued to worsen.

The Woking team have spent the post-season period reflecting on their time with the Japanese manufacturer as they now go into a new partnership with Renault.

Boullier knew another disastrous year was coming in 2017 after McLaren’s horror show at pre-season testing, and it was at that moment he feared the very worst for the infrustructure of the team.

“I went to the management, showed them the data and told them that we cannot accept another year like this,” Boullier told the official F1 website.

“We had a tough first year with Honda, we had a tough second year, and had expected progress good enough to get us back to where we belong – but Barcelona showed that we would go backwards and that was absolutely not an option.

“I obviously warned them about the consequences of another year of no results, where you keep everybody afloat.

“We have a new team, which has been reconstructed in the last three years: new people, very good new people – competitive people who used to win – and the danger was we’d lose them.”