Key thinks Toro Rosso-Honda could spring surprises

Published on 25 Jan 2018 16:41

Toro Rosso's technical director James Key is a firm believer that his team can spring a few surprises this season. The Red Bull junior team will be powered by Honda, who have struggled with power output and reliability since returning to the sport in 2015 with McLaren.

The rough ride with McLaren concluded at the end of the 2017 season, and Toro Rosso will now take on a partnership with the Japanese manufacturer. Despite Honda's form over the last three years, Key is positive heading into the first year of business.

"It's been a totally different world for us, working with Honda and working as a works team," Key told RACER. "To have such a strong collaboration with your power unit supplier is new for Toro Rosso, but it's an extremely welcome situation to have.

"Honda are excellent to work with, I have to say. We've shared an extremely strong common goal and a very good working relationship to date, and there's no reason why that won't continue in exactly the same way."

Key also praised Honda's work ethic so far, and is pleased with how it and Toro Rosso have fluidly worked together in preparation for the 2018 season: "I think the really good thing with how we're working is that we're very transparent with each other, so if we do have a concern or an issue, then we always highlight it.

"Honda have been very honest about the problems they had last year, for example, and have said how they got around them. We've done the same, so it's been a really open discussion on how we can achieve our goals, but with all the data and all the resource to back it up as well."

Toro Rosso will run with Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley for the season, who enter their first full years in Formula 1. Being in an exclusive partnership with a major manufacturer, Key is confident that the team will produce some surprises throughout the 21-race season.

"So I think it's been an excellent experience. It's been hard work because it's a big responsibility, being the only team that's working with a company as big and important as Honda, but I think the way we've done it and the way we're working at the moment has been very positive.

"So I'd like to think we can spring a few surprises this year. There's obviously a lot of questions and you never know until you hit the track, but certainly on the Honda side they're working extremely hard and they're hoping to start off in a positive way."


Fergal Walsh

Replies (7)
US ajpennypacker 25 Jan 2018 22:500
Posts: 1507
I think they could surprise, but not for the reason James Key is thinking... I still think Honda is another year or two away from producing a proper engine.
Posts: 996
Time will tell. I hope they do it's about time that someone gets on Mercedes level and gives them a bit of humble pie. However their chassis won't be on Mercedes level. And neither are their drivers.
BE krommenaas 26 Jan 2018 09:280
Posts: 155
Doesn't matter, if they get the engine to Mercedes level this year, Red Bull will use it next year. However, that just seems extremely unlikely after what we've seen from Honda the past few years.
SE calle.itw 26 Jan 2018 10:140
Posts: 5887
They wont be on Mercedes level. Such a leap is almost impossible, even if they were just focusing on power or reliability, and they can afford doing just the one thing with the current regulations. Their priority should be beating Renault, thats a reasonable goal and its a goal I think they can beat.
SE calle.itw 26 Jan 2018 10:150
Posts: 5887
I think Honda has what it takes to be a good F1 supplier again. They wont be on Mercedes Ferrari level next year, thats for sure, but their main goal is beating Renault. If they manage that, good times are ahead of them.
Posts: 996
Agreed they have to improve in all areas.

What springs to mind is that when Verstappen signed with Redbull for continuation he only did so after visiting the Honda factory. The thing with max is that wherever he goes the team improves around him. He and/or his team is very observant of getting the best opportunities. I can't see him signing on with Redbull knowing that he couldn't get change at competing for a WC within the foreseeable future.

That being the case I predict that Honda will make a substantial improvement next year.
SE calle.itw 26 Jan 2018 23:260
Posts: 5887
Almost all, yes. Though I think its safe to say that they should take focus off from minimizing the unit further, focus on power, reliability and efficiency. The latter two might be the winning attributes in 2018 and onward.

The fact that the Red Bull camp as a whole seem cautiously optimistic about Honda bodes well IMO. Time will tell if that gutfeeling is correct.

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