Toro Rosso duo set for engine penalties in Austin
There were positive signs for Honda at their home race in Japan last time out, as their latest specification engine delivered a step forward in terms of performance. But in the pursuit of more gains and better reliability, the Japanese manufacturer have made more changes to the specification for this weekend and that means Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley will be hit with grid penalties in Austin…
Honda sent the new spec engine back to their base at Sakura after the Japanese Grand Prix for testing and analysis and that has led to some “minor modifications” to the unit ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas in Texas.
Honda Technical Director Toyoharu Tanabe said: “After examining the power units used in Suzuka, we had some concerns and so we have decided to make these changes, which we believe is the best strategy for Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda for the remaining races of this season.
“On both cars, the new units will feature minor modifications to the specification when compared to that used in the Japanese GP.”
Gasly’s Toro Rosso was fitted with a new internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K ahead of first practice, with Hartley set to get the fresh components on Friday evening ahead of final practice on Saturday morning.
Despite the penalties, Honda have reason to be hopeful given the gains they have made across the season, with Renault rival Carlos Sainz describing Honda’s performance in Japanese GP qualifying as “worrying”.
When asked by Formula1.com if Honda are now ahead of Renault in terms of performance, Sainz said: "In the race definitely not, I don't think we're behind Honda on race pace.
"I managed to overtake both Honda cars in the race at Suzuka with better race pace than them, which was a good boost for us.
"But in qualifying they took a step which I think for us starts to be worrying. They took a step in qualifying that we didn't have, and that put them in Q3."