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Red Bull Won’t ‘Sacrifice’ Toro Rosso for Honda Performance

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Toro Rosso 2017 US GP

Toro Rosso at the 2017 United States GP
Photo: Joe McGowan

Though Red Bull Racing’s debut season with Honda is still many months away, the two groups are undoubtedly already working together behind the scenes; and with this comes the opportunity to use Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s sister team, as a testing dummy to help Honda push forward with updates.

But Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner says it won’t sacrifice Toro Rosso to do this. While in theory Honda could be asked to bring more engine updates in 2018, which would force grid penalties onto Toro Rosso, Horner says the need to trial improvements should be balanced with the team’s equal need to have a good constructor’s championship performance.

“Obviously there are opportunities to learn for the benefit of the group, which ultimately Toro Rosso will benefit from as well,” Horner said. “That’s obviously something that remains open, but of course Toro Rosso have got their own fight with the constructors they’re competing with, that obviously has significant value to them.”

Toro Rosso is currently eighth in the standings, just 29 points short of McLaren and three ahead of the Ferrari-powered Sauber team. Unfortunately for Toro Ross, after a promising start to the season, the team has struggled with varying performance in more recent races, even after the positive update brought to the Canadian Grand Prix that had supposedly convinced Red Bull to ditch Renault and switch to Honda.

Horner, however, is not worried. “From what we saw, certainly the last couple of samples—Austria and Silverstone—you can see that the performance of the engine is pretty close to where we currently are with our current supplier,” he said, before adding the ultimate performance of the engine has likely been disguised by track characteristics that have forced Toro Rosso to run varying amounts of downforce.

“It feels like Honda are on the right trajectory,” Horner concluded. “They seem to have the right goals and targets, and we’re looking forward to working with them in a much more collaborative manner as we move into this new relationship.”