Honda has a “big, big plan” to develop their Formula 1 power unit in 2018 and will “show everyone they can do proper engines” according to Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda driver Pierre Gasly.
Since Honda’s return to Formula 1 in 2016 the Japanese firm have come under fire for under-delivering. Their three seasons with the McLaren F1 Team wielded just two fifth place finishes as their best results.
For 2018 Honda teamed with Toro Rosso and enjoyed a promising pre-season, but the first race of the year saw neither car make it past Q1. The race saw Gasly retire with an MGU-H failure while his team-mate Brendon Hartley finished last of the runners.
Despite the poor result, Gasly says that Honda’s 2018 development plan will prove the doubters wrong and show that Honda can take the fight to its rivals.
“On their side they are pushing flat out because they really want to show everyone they can do proper engines,” Gasly told motorsport.com.
“And in terms of the development already they are pushing flat out and we can see some really positive progress.
“We are pushing to have as many upgrades as we can, but of course we know we only have three engines so we need to see exactly when is the best time to bring them.
“It’s all going well, but we also need to give them [Honda] time because it’s Formula 1 – they are all pushing: Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault, they are all pushing and improving all the time.
“For sure they [Honda] cannot recover everything in only three or four months, but in terms of medium to long-term collaboration I think they have a big, big plan ahead, and at the moment they are doing the right things and really pushing hard.”
With Honda and Toro Rosso having gone through a learning period during the winter as they prepared for their first season together, Gasly’s team-mate Hartley believes they can rapidly close the gap to the rest of the mid-field.
“A lot of the resources, energy, over the winter months were [spent on] integrating the new Honda powerplant and starting this new relationship,” Hartley explained.
“The strategy going forward over the next six months is aggressive and everyone in the team is pushing very hard. I’m very optimistic for the remainder of the season.”
Gasly also believes Toro Rosso will gain on their competitors at slower circuits such as Monaco with Honda’s power deficit less of a hindrance.
“Haas is way too fast; Renault as well – we’re fighting with the Williams and Force India,” Gasly said. “Maybe in other conditions or cooler conditions it will be different.
“We know our car is really good in low-speed, so there will be tracks which suit our car a bit better.
“We need to wait and see the other races, but we have potential to fight.”