Toro Rosso-Honda, Interlagos, 2018

Toro Rosso: Honda’s reliability is better than it looks

2018 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Honda’s reliability is better than it looks according to Toro Rosso’s chief race engineer Jonathan Eddolls, despite the team having made the most power unit component changes of any teams this year.

Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly have each had eight new engines, turbochargers and MGU-Hs, well above the limit of three each for the season. Both have also exceeded the maximum limits of two MGU-Ks, energy stores and control electronics.

However Eddolls said many of those changes were made for tactical reasons. “Reliability has actually been relatively good,” he said.

“I think if you look at the number of PU penalties we have taken, it’s very high, and it doesn’t look like Honda has had such good reliability. However, many of those we have elected to take ourselves just to get PUs in the ‘pool’ when we have had a bad qualifying [session], for instance. Reliability has come on a long way and power is now looking good.”

Toro Rosso made their first power unit parts changes at the second race of the season where both drivers took new turbochargers and MGU-Hs, and Gasly also had a new engine.

Eddolls said the team were pleasantly surprised by the progress Honda has made with its power unit’s performance. It introduced its most recent upgrade in Russia and raced it for the first time in Japan.

“Honestly it was a surprise how good they were at the start of the year given everything that we had seen in the press. They’d had a fairly… not a bad picture painted of them, but the expectation were lower than we experienced and they were already at a reasonable level.

“Through the year there have been two really big updates, the spec two for Canada and then the spec three fairly recently. The spec three in particular saw a really big improvement in power, especially in qualifying, and that has really helped in some of the races and will help us for the next two races.”

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Power unit components used so far

28Toro RossoHondaBrendon Hartley888734
10Toro RossoHondaPierre Gasly888633
3Red BullTAG HeuerDaniel Ricciardo565544
27RenaultRenaultNico Hulkenberg565444
14McLarenRenaultFernando Alonso444433
33Red BullTAG HeuerMax Verstappen444433
77MercedesMercedesValtteri Bottas444333
55RenaultRenaultCarlos Sainz Jnr444333
2McLarenRenaultStoffel Vandoorne444333
9SauberFerrariMarcus Ericsson433232
8HaasFerrariRomain Grosjean333222
20HaasFerrariKevin Magnussen333222
31SauberFerrariCharles Leclerc333222
5FerrariFerrariSebastian Vettel333222
44MercedesMercedesLewis Hamilton333222
11Force IndiaMercedesSergio Perez333222
31Force IndiaMercedesEsteban Ocon333222
18WilliamsMercedesLance Stroll333222
35WilliamsMercedesSergey Sitorkin333222
7FerrariFerrariKimi Raikkonen333222

ICE: Internal Combustion Engine
TC: Turbocharger
MGU-K: Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic
MGU-H: Moto Generator Unit: Heat
ES: Energy Store
CE: Control Electronics

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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18 comments on “Toro Rosso: Honda’s reliability is better than it looks”

  1. Boy, Torro has sure become subdued since the “we can fight for the top 10” remark made several races ago.
    Fact is, they haven’t any many, if any top tens since then. They have finished behind Renault powered engines more often than not.

    In fact, although Honda has come up with 60 more HP and claim they have leaped Renault, a McLaren driven by VanDoorne on completely shredded tires finished (well) ahead of both Rosso’s in Mexico.

    Maybe Honda have it together and are sacrificing short term results but it’s getting late in the season and beginning to look like a repeat of the McLaren years – lots of talk with little results. Even if they are testing, they should be doing better than they are now.

    I expect Honda will be reliable and fast next year but IMO, not fast enough to equal Merc and Red. After all, even if Honda have gained 60 extra HP, it’s probably not enough and the big two will up their game over the winter.

    If by some chance Honda shows little improvement next year, not only will Marko be upset but Max will no doubt come completely unglued. Trouble is, he is stuck with them for several years. If not, Ricciardo will look like a genius.

    Intriguing for sure. LeClerc will have a much better car next year and battles between him and Max could be fun to watch – that is if Honda comes up with the goods.

    I wonder if Honda is beginning to feel the environment getting more intense these days with Marko now claiming they think they can win a championship next year. I’d love to be the invisible man in some of the meetings in Japan:)

    1. Yes, Charles and Max banging out may be the highlight of next year’s season!! Game on.

  2. “We managed to change all engine parts before they broke down catastrophically after one or two races”

    1. @socksolid: Thanks for the tech-speek translation. LOL!

    2. @socksolid – LOL.

      Yeah, all this talk is good, but when push comes to shove, these PUs are expected to last seven races, not the three/four that they have done so. That said, Ricciardo’s unreliability this year means there is a lower bar for Honda to meet/exceed.

      1. @phylyp: Good point. But pretty sure Gasly can be trained to carry Danny Ric’s lowered bar back to the paddock.

        Appears the RBR design stressed the Renault power unit more than other teams – will be interesting to see if they stress Honda to the breaking point as often.

        1. Appears the RBR design stressed the Renault power unit more than other teams

          @jimmi-cynic – Can’t speak for this, but they sure stress Cyril out.

        2. If RBR would stress the Renault PU more than Hulkenberg and Alonso would have been behind Verstappen, mot well in front. The Renault engine is stressed by itself and doesn’t discriminate drivers or teams…

          On top of the charts:
          Ricciardo / RBR
          Hulkenberg / Renault
          Alonso / McLaren

          Need we say more about what’s the common factor

    3. yeah, fair translation there @socksolid.

      Also funny how last year they told all of us that they were happy and expecting a good step forward and now they are telling they had low expectations and Honda exceeded them.

      I really hope as a fan of good racing that we get a Red Bull with an engine to fight at the front. But until I see it on track and finish more often than not, I won’t be counting on too much.

  3. I just don’t see how Honda have made any progress. They’ve used 8 turbochargers, 8 internal combustion engines and and 8 Mgu-h each on Gasly and Harleys cars respectively.

    This is the kind of reliability they have with a team that was extremely accommodating to Honda in terms of packaging, installation and cooling. They pretty much did everything Honda asked to improve reliability and performance.

    I can’t wait to see Honda’s progress with a team that dictates how the engine will be packaged in the car.

    1. @todfod – to be fair, we don’t know how many of these component failures were due to actual/potential reliability issues, and how many as part of their testing programme. I’m sure it’s a mix of both, but where the line less between the two we can only guess.

      1. @phylyp

        Agree. Some of it could be because Toro Rosso was treated like a test bed.. But then again they only did launch 3 specs this season…just like every other PU manufacturer.

        As you mentioned a lot of the constant replacements could also be to avoid the embarrassment of breaking down on track.

        I guess we’ll both know in around 4 months time.

    2. It is the same thing they had with mclaren. New versions every other weekend, taking penalties to put an updated engine parts into the car. And just like with mclaren they are gaming the system by changing parts in earlier races so they can gamble for better results in races where they want to be stronger.

      Japan especially as it is honda’s home race and I’m sure they put everything to eleven in that race to get the best result they could there. And used the race before japan as a throwaway race to update everything. In russia they had 40 and 35 grid penalties. And after the japanese gp in the usa gp they replaced a lot of parts in their cars and not just engine components but things like gearbox for hartley resulting in 35+40 grid penalties.

      1. @socksolid: Not a good look for Honda. But it’s not like RBR haven’t been preparing as well. They’ve demonstrated this season that Max can get to the podium while starting at the back. They’re all set!

  4. @jimmi-cynic

    But is he prepared for a GP2 engine?

    1. @todfod: It’ll be fine. He’s got Fred’s phone number if he wants a little prep pep talk.

  5. Talk on the track. We’ll see next year… they kept telling us how much improved the engines were during their McLaren stint, and it was all lies!

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