Hasegawa Hopeful of Strong Start to 2018 for Honda and Toro Rosso

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Outgoing Honda boss Yusuke Hasegawa believes they and new partners Scuderia Toro Rosso can hit the ground running, thanks to the Japanese engine manufacturer sticking with the same engine concept in 2018.

However, Hasegawa says Honda will resort to the backup of their 2017 engine if issues affect the 2018 specification power unit, particularly if problems arise during pre-season testing as they did ahead of the problematic final season with the McLaren F1 Team.

An oil system problem left them on the back foot at the beginning of 2017 but there were improvements right through the season, and McLaren began to become regular points scorers at the end of the year, and Hasegawa hopes the reliability is there straightaway with Toro Rosso.

“It’s a great help [to stick with the same concept],” said Hasegawa to Motorsport.com. “We need more performance and reliability. It’s much better at this stage of the season.

“We haven’t decided next year’s complete specification but at least we have a back-up plan, which is the current engine. So I’m sure we can start the season well next year.”

Hasegawa, who will be replaced by Yasuaki Asaki and Toyoharu Tanabe at the end of the year, believes Honda can close to performance gap to their rivals on the grid, but admitted that the 2017 concept change and the subsequent oil system issues left them well adrift early on, and ultimately caused their divorce from McLaren and the switch to Toro Rosso.

“We modified the engine concept from last year to this year,” said Hasegawa. “There’s no doubt it was a necessary update for us. We are thinking it was the right direction.

“The biggest issue is that we didn’t complete the engine in time for [2017 pre-season] winter testing. Although we tried a good thing, we needed more time to complete it.

“We chose almost the same concept as other competitors so from that point of view, there is no reason why we can’t catch up with the others.”