It’s a rare season that the Red Bull junior team’s biggest change isn’t to do with its drivers.
Toro Rosso took on the previously-unloved Honda power units, ditched by McLaren after three seasons of poor power and reliability.
SOUNDBITE (English): FRANZ TOST,
TEAM PRINCIPAL, TORO ROSSO:
“We built up a completely new car with the new power unit from Honda which is integrated quite well with a really good cooperation with Honda - and I must say that I think we have a competitive package.”
It took just two races to prove Tost correct. Pierre Gasly brought his car home fourth in Bahrain - Honda’s best race result since returning to Formula 1.
The Frenchman has impressed in his first full-season campaign, the highlights his breakthrough in Bahrain, and racing his way from the back of the field to the cusp of the points in Canada, and an impressive sixth place in Hungary.
But there have been plenty of downs for Honda … and Brendon Hartley has worn the worst of it. The newlywed New Zealander started the season full of hope.
SOUNDBITE (English): BRENDON HARTLEY,
TORO ROSSO, F1 DRIVER:
“There were a few milestones last year: winning Le Mans, another world championship, and then my Formula 1 debut which was already a big moment for me. This year again will be the first full season, which is what I’ve dreamt of all my life.”
However, the No.28 Toro Rosso leads the field in the number of power unit components used so far in 2018, Hartley having to start from the back of the grid on a number of occasions.
At the season’s mid-point, Toro Rosso sits just adrift of the battle for fifth place … slightly below where it has been with engines from Renault or Ferrari.
How Honda continues to progress will dictate Toro Rosso’s fortunes through the rest of the season … but Gasly’s result in Hungary could have come at just the right time.
“This result is the best way to motivate Honda and to show them that we have potential and to push them forward, and hopefully get more performance on their side for the second half of the season,” Gasly said.