Honda is starting its new partnership with Scuderia Toro Rosso with a restructuring, as Honda head of F1 project Yusuke Hasegawa (pictured above) will take on a new role within the Japanese manufacturer and his previous title, head of Formula 1 project, will be eliminated.
Instead, under the new structure Hasegawa’s former role will be split. An operating officer in charge of HRD Sakura will oversee research and development and the overall operation of races and testing, while current Honda Performance Development senior manager and race team engineer Toyoharu Tanabe will assume the newly created role of F1 Technical Director.
Hasegawa, who will not continue in the F1 project, will take on the title of executive chief engineer.
“In the past, the Head of F1 Project assumed responsibility in both technological development and directing the team at the spot of racing,” said Katsuhide Moriyama, Honda Motor Co.’s Chief Officer for Brand and Communication Operations. “By separating these areas of responsibility, we will evolve our structure so that both the development team and racing/testing team can assume their respective responsibilities more speedily.
“By ensuring both the development team and racing team soundly fulfill their respective roles, Honda will continue its challenges so that fans can enjoy seeing Toro Rosso-Honda competing at the top level without further delay. Thank you for your continuous support.”
Hasegawa recently said Honda will take on more leadership in its partnership with Toro Rosso following its difficult years with McLaren, with the primary challenge of getting the power unit installed properly in the 2018 car within a limted time frame.
“We need to make many modifications, which is a big job, especially in this limited amount of time,” he told Honda Racing’s website. “Honda and Toro Rosso – from both sides – are doing a very good job.
“We’ve been the ones making the majority of requests so far, but it’s fair to say this will be a more equal partnership than it was with McLaren in terms of leadership. And that’s not just because of the size of the team. Obviously Honda as a company is huge but we had little recent F1 experience – so from that point of view McLaren was still leading us. That won’t be the same with Toro Rosso.
“We are working quickly to swap teams. We have to prepare things before February, so it will be a very busy winter. Development is ongoing on the power unit. It will remain the same power unit concept from this year, so we are able to use the current one as the starting point.”
“A new challenge and making new relationships with people is always exciting. From an experience point of view, for this era of Honda, it will be the first time we have changed team and we’ll get a better understanding of what a normal situation is.
Tanabe, who began his career at Honda in 1984, sandwiched F1 engineering roles with Gerhard Berger (1990-92 at McLaren) and Jenson Button (2003-07 at BAR and Honda) between a 10-year stint as a race engineer researching IndyCar engines (1993-2003).
Chris Medland contributed to this report.