Just days after their split from McLaren was confirmed, Honda’s chief motorsport director Masashi Yamamoto has claimed that the limping Woking outfit are too systematic and don’t adapt to change efficiently.
In an interview conducted in the wake of yesterday’s Singapore Grand Prix – a race that saw Stoffel Vandoorne finish inside the points – Yamamoto criticised the team’s attitude, whilst praising new customers Toro Rosso, hinting that they can offer more adaptability.
“Working with McLaren, I’ve realised that they are a very big company which is very systematic,” Yamamoto told the official Honda Racing website.
“It’s obviously very strong because of that but at the same time they can find it hard to adapt to change.”
“Compare that to Toro Rosso, it is a company that is growing. It is very important for us to work in partnership together, heading towards the same goal.”
“Take this for an example: If we compare both teams with different cuisines, let’s say McLaren is a very sophisticated French cuisine, that’s the way it is. Then Toro Rosso is more like a countryside, homemade delicious stew where you can add new ingredients. We’re excited to do that.”
It was believed that Honda were rushed into their return into Formula 1 a year early by McLaren, with the resulting three seasons causing irreparable damage between the two parties, the glory days of the 20th century far from replicated, with star driver Fernando Alonso delivering several public condemnations of the Japanese brand.
Yamamoto: “We want to show Honda’s potential”
As McLaren look to start afresh with Renault for the first time in their long history, Yamamoto is looking towards evolution, not revolution.
“The regulations go on until 2020 so we still have three years and we want to show our improvements in the technology. We want to show Honda’s potential.”
Yamamoto pinpointed the importance of this to Honda’s name, wanting to show the world their ability to progress and succeed. These comments come in the wake of speculation that Toro Rosso’s parent team Red Bull may be one of their customers from 2019, potentially bringing Honda back towards the front of the grid.
It was well known that communication was lacking with McLaren and Honda, however Yamamoto is optimistic that that won’t be a problem with Toro Rosso.
“First, [Toro Rosso team principal] Mr. Tost knows a lot about Japan. He understands the culture and it’s a good communication that we have,” he noted, before adding: “We have seen that they also have a young factory and are growing, which for Honda is very important because we can work with the same mentality and have the same approach. It is a new start with a team with a similar mindset to move forwards together.”
Good communication needed between Honda and McLaren
Deteriorated relationship aside, Yamamoto was keen to affirm Honda’s commitment to McLaren for the rest of the 2017 season.
“Toro Rosso and Honda will start working together immediately and for the coming year,” he said.
“However, before that we have the rest of the 2017 season to complete with McLaren, so a good communication between us is still very important, as well as a good performance in the remaining races.”