Toyoharu Tanabe admitted it was disappointing to see a promising display in Qualifying for Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda fail to translate into any kind of points in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, with Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley finishing eleventh and thirteenth respectively.
Hartley had started sixth, but a slow start compromised his afternoon, while a late pit stop saw Gasly drop down the order as he lost out to drivers who had made their stops earlier. The Frenchman then lost out on the final point in the closing laps to Carlos Sainz Jr., who had made an alternative strategy work in his favour.
Tanabe, the Honda F1 Technical Director, felt it was unfortunate that they could not score points in front of Honda’s home fans, but he says the team will turn the disappointment into motivation as they aim to score points in the remaining four races of 2018.
“Today’s result was disappointing, given our excellent showing in qualifying yesterday,” said Tanabe. “Pierre ran in the points for much of the race, so it was unfortunate that he was unable to fight off Sainz in the closing stages and dropped down to eleventh.
“Since we arrived in Suzuka, we have had fantastic support from the Toro Rosso Honda fans, which was a great boost for all of us. So it was a shame that we were unable to repay them with a point or two.
“However, the frustration we all feel at the lack of points will be turned into motivation as we carry on working for the final four races and, at this point of the year, even looking to 2019.”
Tanabe subsequently revealed that Honda were forced to abort a change to its engine under parc ferme conditions just prior to the race by the FIA, who had initially agreed to allow them to address the issues with engine oscillations while shifting up gears on Gasly’s car.
However, it appears the FIA was not convinced that Honda made change in the way they had implied they would, which forced them to ask Toro Rosso to revert back to its original settings.
“We submitted the parc ferme change request to the FIA,” Tanabe is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “They approved it, that’s why they issued the document.
“I need to find out exactly why they changed their decision; that was done by someone. We were surprised, because they said yes. Suddenly, on the grid, they said no.
“We need to respect the FIA’s decision, so we didn’t use it.”