MONTMELO, Spain — Toro Rosso is encouraged by the level of improvement shown by new engine partner Honda over the winter.
Toro Rosso has replaced McLaren as the works Honda team for this season, ending a run of seasons as a customer for Ferrari and Renault. Honda is looking to rebuild its reputation in F1 after three disastrous years with McLaren, all of which started with a string of reliability issues in winter testing.
When asked if he expects Toro Rosso to be doing a lot of troubleshooting in this week’s opening test, team boss Franz Tost said: “I don’t see any problems.
“The power unit is working quite well and I am convinced Honda has the capacity and the know-how to develop the engine from to a level that we will be there, where we expect to be and this is how it is. I see it as very, very positive because Honda have made a lot of progress in the last months on the reliability side as well as the performance side, so we are looking forward to the season.”
One issue raised by McLaren was the difficulty in communicating between its base in the UK and Honda’s in Japan. Toro Rosso has worked to ensure this is not a problem this year.
“I must say we have a really fantastic working relationship with Honda,” technical director James Key said. “We had very busy months, as you can imagine, in November, December, January and now February, and there were absolutely no problems.
“From the communications side, as you know we at Toro Rosso started to prepare ourselves for this cooperation, we had a couple of lessons in Faenza on how to communicate with Japanese companies and with Honda, and I think this was very useful also to get an idea of the way they think, because it’s a completely different culture and these seminars got very positive results and we have a really good relationship with Honda.
“It was a completely new start for Toro Rosso, as you can imagine, we’re kind of a works team, we are the only team that is working with Honda and this opened a lot of possibilities, especially on the technical side with the engine installation and so on, but James will speak about that in more detail. For Toro Rosso it’s a big advantage to work together with such a big company as Honda is.”
New Honda technical chief Toyoharu Tanabe says the team has used the failures of the last three years to shape the work it has done on the engine.
“As you know we had a hard time since we rejoined Formula One,” Tanabe said. “But we learned a lot from those days and then we used that knowledge to develop this year’s Power Unit. Especially in the reliability area but in the performance area as well.”