The partnership between Honda and Scuderia Toro Rosso will see the Japanese engine supplier take on more of a leadership role than it did with the McLaren F1 Team, according to Yusuke Hasegawa.
McLaren and Honda parted ways at the end of the 2017 Formula 1 season after three seasons together that did not work out as either party had hoped, with no victories or podiums for Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button or Stoffel Vandoorne in that time, with the Woking-based squad now switching to Renault power from 2018.
However, Honda has found a new partner in Toro Rosso, and Hasegawa, the head of Honda’s F1 Project, says there will be a lot of work to be done in order to prepare for the 2018 season with their new partners, with the installation of the power unit amongst the biggest jobs for them to do.
“The installation is the biggest job for us, to get the engine to fit to the chassis,” said Hasegawa on the official Honda Racing website. “We need to make many modifications, which is a big job, especially in this limited amount of time. Honda and Toro Rosso – from both sides – are doing a very good job.
“We’ve been the ones making the majority of requests so far, but it’s fair to say this will be a more equal partnership than it was with McLaren in terms of leadership.
“And that’s not just because of the size of the team. Obviously Honda as a company is huge but we had little recent F1 experience – so from that point of view McLaren was still leading us. That won’t be the same with Toro Rosso.
“We are working quickly to swap teams. We have to prepare things before February, so it will be a very busy winter. Development is ongoing on the power unit. It will remain the same power unit concept from this year, so we are able to use the current one as the starting point.”
Hasegawa feels the ‘very professional’ outfit at Toro Rosso will enable Honda to grow even more into a more knowledgeable and experienced engine supplier, and he admits the chance from McLaren to the Faenza-based squad was needed after three years of pain with the Woking-based team.
“A new challenge and making new relationships with people is always exciting,” said Hasegawa. “From an experience point of view, for this era of Honda, it will be the first time we have changed team and we’ll get a better understanding of what a normal situation is.
“We only know things as the McLaren-Honda way, but this will be another opportunity to expand our understanding and experience of a different way of working.
“I think we needed the change. From a technical point of view it’s good for us to know more about other things, like new cooling situations or how the top speed of a different car design is affected by drag. It is very important to understand what the standard is.
“Toro Rosso is also a very good team and they are very open with us. Compared to their position – in terms of size and resources – they are actually very competitive. I don’t know how the rest of the paddock looks at Toro Rosso but we’ve had many meetings with them and they are technically very professional.”