Toro Rosso is “very excited” by the Honda power unit update it will race at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, according to Brendon Hartley.
Honda tested its latest specification of power unit during practice in Russia but opted against using it for the full race weekend as it wanted to make further improvements before its home race at Suzuka. Hartley is confident he will be able to run the upgrade throughout the coming weekend, and says it provides a clear step forward in performance.
“I don’t know exact numbers, and that’s something Honda would be better to confirm, but definitely we had a step and we used it on Friday in Sochi,” Hartley said. “Obviously it was a bit of a learning exercise with mappings and all the other things that go around introducing a new PU.
“We actually saw the engines on the dyno in Sakura, so we know that we’ve been working all week. We’re excited to see how it goes tomorrow.
“We haven’t had an update for a long time. We did have an aero update which didn’t really work. We’ve definitely been waiting for an update of any description. I think the one from Honda is one that we’ve very excited about. We believe it will bring a good step in performance.
“I don’t want to say exactly how much, but the truth is I don’t know the exact numbers. It’s a step that we’ll see on the lap time, which is important.”
Toro Rosso’s race in Russia was ended prematurely by brake issues on both cars, and Hartley says the team has identified the cause ahead of hitting the track on Friday in Japan.
“The caliper was stuck, overheated, boiled the brake system and then the pedal went to the floor eventually,” he said. “Already from lap one I had a long pedal. The fact that it happened on both cars makes it very easy for the cars to understand exactly what happened. It was a one-case scenario – it hasn’t happened all year.
“I think there was a certain spec on the car that was in terms of cooling maybe different for this race. I think they have a very good understanding why it happened. Start of the race, in traffic, heavy fuel, three or four things combined made the problem. I don’t think there’s any worry from anyone that they won’t resolve it for this race.”