Franz Tost admitted Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda struggled for pace throughout the whole Chinese Grand Prix weekend, and after the highs of fourth place in Bahrain, they witnessed the lows of their drivers colliding at the Shanghai International Circuit.
Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley came to blows at the hairpin at the end of the back straight after miscommunication between the duo, with the debris from the incident causing the safety car period that turned the race at the front of the field on its head.
However Toro Rosso were never close to the front of the field, and Gasly was classified a lowly eighteenth while Hartley retired towards the end of the race with a gearbox issue, and Toro Rosso team principal Tost said it was a difficult weekend where they could not unlock the potential they know the STR13 has.
“Unfortunately, Toro Rosso didn’t perform well,” said Tost. “This weekend we struggled from the very beginning onwards – we were near the back on the starting grid, and during the race we couldn’t find the pace we needed.
“In addition to this, we had the collision between the two drivers because of a communication misunderstanding, which is a real shame. At the end of the race, we detected an issue on the gearbox of Brendon’s car and therefore we had to retire.
“Hopefully we can find the reason for this bad performance and be more competitive in Baku.”
Honda F1 Technical Director Toyoharu Tanabe echoed Tost’s thoughts, but at least the Japanese engine supplier can look at the weekend with positive thoughts after the power unit had no issues.
“After a strong showing in Bahrain just a few days ago, we have had a much more difficult weekend in Shanghai and today’s poor result reflects that,” said Tanabe. “On the PU front, everything ran smoothly, but our overall pace was not very good and then it was unfortunate that our two cars collided.”
Tanabe says Honda will now work hard over the forthcoming days to analyse the opening three races of the season and find ways of improving the power unit.
“Now, after three races in just four weeks, we can assess what we have learned in order to improve for the future,” said Tanabe.