Technical director James Key says having long-term stability with Honda as its power unit supplier will make “a massive difference” for Toro Rosso.
Toro Rosso used Renault power units in 2015 before switching to year-old Ferrari engines a year later and then reverting back to Renault last year. Amid all the changes, the team has failed to deliver on its target of fifth place in the constructors’ championship, finishing seventh in each of the past four seasons.
While it will use its fourth different power unit this season at the start of its Honda works partnership, Key insists having a three-year deal with the Japanese manufacturer will provide a much better chance of finishing fifth in the constructors’ standings in future.
“That’s not to say we wouldn’t want to chase [P5] this year, of course; we want to have the best success we can with our partners at Honda and they’re very keen for that success as well,” Key told RACER. “So we’ll be pushing very hard this year, but I do think it gives us – both us and Honda – a really good period of stability. That’s so important.
“Particularly if you’ve got a wee bit of catching up to do, it’s so important to have stability. You’re able to long-term plan, you can prioritize a little bit easier as well. I think we have to remember that STR is quite unique in all this business in many ways because we’ve had three different power units in three years!
“Nobody else is doing any of that stuff, and often they’ve been very late agreements as well, so that’s extremely disruptive. It’s very expensive and it’s really disruptive. You can’t long-term plan under those conditions. There were reasons for that – perfectly valid reasons why that happened – but it is not an instability that our competitors have suffered.
“Now we have the opportunity of that stability. We can long-term plan; we do know what engine we’re going to have in 2019 and 2020, so we can discuss early conversations with Honda – which we’ve already done about our directions for 2019, for example – and we can be much earlier with a much more optimum solution with how we’re laying the car out and so on. So for us it makes a massive difference.”
Toro Rosso’s best constructors’ championship finish is sixth place in 2008, the year in which Sebastian Vettel won the Italian Grand Prix for the team.