Honda Investigating Variation in Form in Opening Races with Toro Rosso


Brendon Hartley - Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda
Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Toyoharu Tanabe admits to being unsure to just why the Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda team had such varying results and performances in the Bahrain and Chinese Grand Prix, but work is being done, at least on the engine side of the team, to ensure more competitive outings this season.

A week on from Pierre Gasly securing an excellent fourth-place finish in Bahrain having made it into the top ten shootout for the first time, both the Frenchman and team-mate Brendon Hartley struggled in China, with both drivers struggling to get out of Q1 and neither being a contender for the points on Sunday.

Honda F1 technical officer Tanabe says work needs to be done to ensure more results like that in Bahrain come their way, and analysis is already underway to determine why the pace was not there in China.

“I think the result in China came from the Toro Rosso Honda package,” said Tanabe to RACER. “I can’t tell if it’s exactly from the chassis side or the power unit side.

“So we need to understand and we need to investigate the cause. We need to analyze what happened in China and also what happened in Bahrain, why it happened in China and why it happened in Bahrain, and then I think we will make a plan for the future.”

One pleasing aspect for Honda is the reliability they have had in the opening three races, with only one engine-related issue being noted, which was Gasly’s race-ending MGU-H issue in the Australian Grand Prix.  Countermeasures were put in place to avoid a repeat of the issue, and subsequently no further problems have arose in either Bahrain or China, although Tanabe is cautious about reliability going forward.

“So far we haven’t seen any issues on the data,” said Tanabe.  “We will send the hardware back to Sakura for maintenance and we will then have a look at the hardware itself. So from the data side there are no concerns. So at the moment we are happy with the updated MGU-H.

“One ICE has done three races, one ICE has done two races and then the MGU-H has done two races, so we still have only done two or three races with the components. The current situation means we don’t worry about reliability very much but it is easy to have an unexpected situation, so we need to be careful and can’t be too happy.”