Toro Rosso respond to taunts about Honda engine

Date published: February 15 2018

Toro Rosso have released a cheeky FAQ article after being teased over the start-up of their Honda engine.

Most teams have been building up to their 2018 launches by posting videos of their engine start-ups, with the Red Bull junior team showing theirs just before Haas became the first team to release images of the new VF-18.

The video of the Honda start-up was met with the usual jokes given the Japanese manufacturer’s rocky years with McLaren, but Toro Rosso took them all in good spirit and posted a comical article in response.

Toro Rosso will be the last team to launch their car, opting to peel the covers off on the morning of the first winter test on Monday, February 26.

Key hoping for a reliable Honda power unit

Date published: February 6 2018

James Key is hoping that Honda’s 2018 power unit will be reliable from the first lap of pre-season testing, as he reckons that will make a huge difference on Toro Rosso’s season.

This year Red Bull’s junior team will run Honda power after signing with the Japanese manufacturer as their sole customer.

It is a move that is shrouded in uncertainty given Honda’s wretched reliability last season when they powered McLaren.

As such Key acknowledges that his biggest desire is for the Honda power unit to be reliable from the get-go.

The Toro Rosso tech chief told RACER: “I think it makes a huge difference.

“It works both for us and Honda as a team together, it’s important for both of us to have that situation.

“When we ran the 2015 Ferrari engine in 2016, that was a very well-established engine.

“It had done an entire season; all of its issues had been ironed out and as a result we got an extremely reliable unit and we were able to do absolutely tons of winter testing.

“That was extremely useful for the team and for the drivers. So it does make a difference.”

He added: “We have had different experiences! Last year I think we did half the amount of mileage and in 2014 we did a tiny amount of mileage and that was all power unit-related, so I think it matters a great deal.

“Let’s see where we are – it matters of course very much to Honda too, so hopefully at that point it will be OK. There could be teething problems with certain things but that’s what testing is for. You never know, but that is the target for both sides.”

‘Alonso did everything to make Honda look bad’

Date published: January 30 2018

Fernando Alonso was, at least according to Helmut Marko,  part of Honda’s problems with the Red Bull advisor saying he tried “everything to make the engine look bad.”

Last season, after yet another frustrating campaign with Honda power, McLaren decided to call it quits on their three-year partnership with Honda.

It was three years of a lack of pace and a ridiculous number of grid penalties, the result of an unreliable engine.

Instead McLaren will race Renault engines in 2018 while Toro Rosso have taken over the Honda deal.

And Marko reckons there is cause of encouragement as he feels Alonso added to Honda’s troubles.

“Honda is very active and has already found something,” the Red Bull advisor told Auto Motor und Sport.

“Maybe they manage to be on the level of Renault with the second engine.

“Honda had to compromise on the McLaren chassis specification.

They could not develop freely and were pretty limited.”

He added: “Alonso has done everything to make the engine look bad.”

Vasseur took just an hour to cancel Honda deal

Date published: January 25 2018

Fred Vasseur took all of an hour to put an end to the Sauber-Honda deal, revealing he cancelled the deal an hour after signing on as Sauber’s team boss.

Last year Sauber announced that they would swap from Ferrari to Honda engines for the 2018 season.

But, when Vasseur was appointed as the new team boss, that deal was quickly brought to an end.

“I joined on July 17 at 9am, and the meeting was at 10am,” he explained

“For me it was important. It is never easy to change the engine supplier first, but Honda was not in a very good shape.

“Plus, and probably most important for me, was that we were linked to McLaren for the gearbox with absolutely no internal resources to do our own one.

“I was convinced, as I had some contacts at McLaren, that they would do their best to leave. So I could not be in a position to risk that.

“Imagine today if I had to request the Honda gearbox from McLaren. It would be an absolute nightmare.

“Being in the process of working on our 2018 car, we were not able to postpone the decision.”

Instead Vasseur worked to bring Sauber closer to Ferrari, resulting in the new Alfa Romeo deal.

Not only will Sauber race brand new Ferrari engines this season but the team will run under the Alfa Romeo logo while fielding promising Ferrari protege Charles Leclerc.

This has led to claims that Sauber are now Ferrari’s B-team. Vasseur says call them what you want, he just wants success for the team.

“What people call us doesn’t matter – nobody is taking care of whether we are a junior, or a customer,” he said. “We just have to build up something with them [Ferrari], based on a common approach and mutual agreement.

“We need to have a close relationship but I don’t want to buy the car of Ferrari because I want to keep the know-how.

“It we don’t do that, I will be in exactly the same position as we could be in today with the gearbox, and I want to avoid this kind of decision.”

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.