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Toro Rosso Believes It Can Win With Honda

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Brendon Hartley in Toro Rosso Honda

Photo: emperornie

The idea that a team would believe it had no chance to win in any given motorsport seems almost ludicrous—after all, why else do they compete?—but in Formula One, which is often a technological arms race between manufacturers where those with the biggest budgets succeed, the sentiment is quite common.

Toro Rosso, for instance, which joined F1 in 2006, has never finished higher than sixth in the constructor’s championship and only ever won a single race, nearly a decade ago. Nobody expects them to win a race in 2018 or any time soon, nor do its own team members.

Yet James Key, the team’s technical boss, is optimistic that may change following Toro Rosso’s new alliance with Honda, which he described in glowing terms. “The honeymoon is long over,” he said. “The relationship has already become much deeper. The cooperation is exemplary.”

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He added that while Toro Rosso was still getting used to being a works team, it was greatly enjoying the novelty. “It’s a challenge that we gladly accepted. We have never had the opportunity to work so closely with an engine manufacturer. We have more responsibility as a factory racing team. It’s a completely different situation to being purely a customer. Life at the track is easier as I find that Honda responds to each of our wishes.”

This kind of rhetoric marks a stark contrast to the previous relationship between McLaren and Honda, which ended at the end of 2017 following a run of three bad years. But Key believes Toro Rosso can win with Honda. “Where are the rules that say the other teams can’t win? I think it’s feasible that we can catch up with the best teams. And with a bit of luck, a podium finish is definitely possible. In the longer term, we want to get in a position to win races with Honda.”

Unfortunately for Key and Toro Rosso, if the team does get in that position, it’s more likely that its parent company and sister team, Red Bull, will end up snatching those Honda engines and taking all the glory for itself.

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