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F1 Driver Brendon Hartley Thinks McLaren Made a Mistake Leaving Honda

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Brendon Hartley

Photo: Osajus

Brendon Hartley, WEC champion and Scuderia Toro Rosso’s new driver since the tail end of the 2017 Formula One season, thinks the McLaren team made a mistake in leaving Honda power for 2018.

“I think they’ve made a mistake,” Hartley told Marca, a Spanish sports newspaper, on Monday. “The engine is very drivable, and I have more power than last year.”

Last year, the New Zealander’s Toro Rosso was powered by Renault, which is now supplying McLaren with engines after a trade was agreed.

McLaren had originally planned for a 10-year partnership with Honda but cut it short after just three years because of reliability and performance issues, believing them to be too commercially damaging to the brand.

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Though Honda was off to a difficult start upon its return to the sport, it looks to be on an upward path. “Honda developed at the end of last year, and the trend is still the same,” said Franz Tost, Toro Rosso’s team principal.

“We have big medium- and long-term plans with Honda. I always say the first three positions are gone in the championship, but everything is possible in the fight for fourth place.”

So far in pre-season testing, the Honda engine is already looking more reliable than it had ever been with McLaren, suggesting that some of the Woking team’s issues were perhaps not as free of blame as it wont to claim.

Toro Rosso has finished 7th in the championship with Renault power every year since the new hybrid era kicked off in 2014, twice behind McLaren. With new engines and an exclusive partnership with Honda, it hopes to finally make progress in the constructor’s championship…and if it does, the Red Bull parent team won’t take long to sweep in and rake the benefits.

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