F1 engine supplier Honda has grown confident during its new relationship with Toro Rosso. The Japanese manufacturer is currently trying to rebuild its reputation in the sport with the team. Especially considering Honda’s disastrous three-year spell with McLaren. Those three years were hampered by poor reliability and a lack of performance.
Now, Honda has made impressive gains in both departments with new suitors Toro Rosso. This was highlighted by a brilliant fourth place finish for Pierre Gasly in Bahrain. However, reliability niggles have set the team back in what it described as a “rollercoaster” start to 2018.
Their progress has managed to persuade the sister team to end its 12-year relationship with Renault.
“I think the big thing is with Honda is, they’ve got a lot of resource, a lot of fire power, but I think they needed a fresh input,” said James Key, Toro Rosso Technical Director.
“And because we’d experienced a different power unit the year before, we had a generally good idea of what’s going on, and how certain things were working, and what’s achievable.
“So we were able to talk about where we thought they should be with some things. And because they’ve got that fire power of people, and talent, and investment and so on, they were able to react to that pretty quickly.
“What we’ve seen recently is their reaction to some of that, but also, predominantly, a lot of their own internal work just coming good, now that they’ve got the opportunity to do it without reliability concerns.
“I think the other thing that I’ve noticed a change in is just their confidence is higher. They’re willing to stick their neck out a bit and try stuff, compared to maybe when we first started working together. So, if that continues, then it’s a good way to go.”
He dismissed suggestions of less pressure on Honda compared to its tenure with McLaren. However, he stressed that the Faenza-based squad is staying positive in its relationship with the Japanese engine manufacturer. They are also refusing to resort to “finger-pointing” tactics.
“Lots of people have said that it’s gonna be less pressure than the previous team, but that’s not the case at all,” he added. “Of course the pressure is on. But we’ve tried to make it a positive pressure rather than a negative one.
“So, we’re very transparent, we’re very honest with each other. And that’s helped us work our way through issues very easily, and in a very straightforward way.
“There’s no finger pointing or anything like that. So we’re able to have honest conversations. When we first met, there was obviously a little bit of apprehension and stress about what they’d just been through. It was clear that we needed to let them reset a little bit, and get their house in order, which they’ve done really well.
“I think there was some organisational changes, which have helped. A very, very high workload for one person has been split now into two, and that’s allowing a very complex task to be covered a little bit easier.”