Toro Rosso’s Franz Tost: “Honda on a whole new level”

Toro Rosso Honda boss Franz Tost reveals just what it’s like working with Honda, appraises his two drivers Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley. Hints what Honda’s got in development for Spa/Monza.

The interview below was given as an exclusive the Austria’s Speedweek publication today, and gives detailed insight and appraisal of the collaboration between Honda and Red Bull’s junior outfit Toro Rosso.

Even more poignant a story since the eventual admission by Red Bull of their partnering with Honda in 2019 making both outfits Honda teams.

 

“I am optimistic about the future”

– Franz Tost

Franz, what was your overall impression of working with Honda during the first quarter of the season?

A very positive impression. The expectations were exceeded. The cooperation worked very well from the beginning. On the one hand I mean the communication as well as the technical exchange, we speak very transparently about everything.

Last year Honda had some reliability issues that were analysed. The Honda engineers worked very hard.

There was a close cooperation with our technicians regarding the whole management of this drive unit.

The deciding factor in a modern engine is how the various units are optimally combined, ie internal combustion engine, turbocharger, the two electric generators for energy recovery and the battery.

In winter there was an intense cooperation with Honda. The result: At the beginning of the test phase, we had a well-functioning power unit that ran steadily and was powerful.

Honda has then pushed forward in recent months, the development. From Canada, we got a new upgrade, which is worth three-tenths of a second on the runway. Therefore, I am optimistic about the future.

 

In which areas does Honda have to increase compared to the other engine manufacturers?

In Formula 1, there is never just one area. You are constantly developing in all areas.

So it is still working intensively on the next stage of the internal combustion engine, to an improved version of the MGU-H and MGU-K.

Honda is also working on a more powerful battery. And, most importantly, the different peripheral parts need to be better reconciled. There is still a lot of potential to be exploited, we know that too.

We will need this work in 2018 and then join the best manufacturers in 2019.

 

“A lot of potential to be exploited”

– Franz Tost

In which areas does Honda have to do better compared to the other engine manufacturers?

In Formula 1, there is never just one area.

You are constantly developing in all areas. So it is still working intensively on the next stage of the internal combustion engine, to an improved version of the MGU-H and MGU-K.

Honda is also working on a more powerful battery. And, most importantly, the different aggregates need to be better reconciled. There is still a lot of potential to be exploited, we know that too.

We will need this work in 2018 and then join the best manufacturers in 2019.

 

How is Honda’s way of working different from the previous engine partner [Renault]?

We are talking about a completely different cooperation. We were customers at the former partners. We were simply given  parts from the box.

Sometimes they seemed so old to me that they probably came out of a dumpster! Thank God that’s not the case with Honda. We’re on a whole new level of cooperation.

That starts with the design, so how the engine is fitted into the chassis to optimise space and weight distribution and aerodynamics interpreted best.

 

Toro Rosso-Honda shows quite different performances in 2018: very good in Bahrain for example, less well in Spain, then good again in Monaco. How come?

There are many factors involved. This is also circuit specific. On slow tracks with tight corners, our car is better.

We know our deficits, and I hope we can eradicate some of them over the coming weeks. We get a revised Aero package for the GP weekend in Austria, which should eliminate disadvantages in medium-fast and fast corners.

Tyre management is also a big topic. We must not forget that we have two drivers who are driving tracks for the first time.

Since we can not expect that they know everything right away. Especially the handling of the tyres on certain tracks is new territory for them. That takes time. But primarily we have to work on the car.

 

What developments will Honda bring as the season progresses?

The Evo 2 power unit arrived in Montreal, with the benefits previously mentioned. During the season comes a third version.

The regulations state that we have to start from the back. But we like to take the risk, because we see this season as a transitional season for 2019.

By then everything should work as desired.

 

 

Are we talking about the races after the summer break?

Yes. Belgium and Italy are both races where you can change the engine without being totally out of the race by grid penalties because in Spa-Francorchamps and Monza you can overtake.

A change in Singapore, however, should be avoided, Sochi too.

 

How is your do you rate the drivers?

Gasly does a sensationally good job. He has delivered dream races in Bahrain and Monaco, very deliberate, controlled, with deep technical understanding. Pierre is on the right track, he can become a top driver.

Brendon Hartley gets along better and better. We must never forget that he comes from endurance racing and has not driven single-seaters in recent years.

Of course we realise that. His biggest problem is tyre understanding, but he is constantly learning to do so. We will see many nice performances from him in the following season.

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