When Sauber decided that it didn’t want its engines earlier this year, Honda started to look around at any other teams that might be interested in a partnership.
Toro Rosso initially appeared keen, but then elected not to continue with talks because there apparently wasn’t enough time left to properly incorporate the new engine into next year’s car.
It’s going to have to find a way to make it work now though, because Toro Rosso will be using Honda engines in 2018 after all, marking it’s third different engine supplier in as many years.
It all happened because McLaren really, really wanted to break the partnership with Honda and Renault were the only team willing to consider a supply.
What Renault didn’t want however was an extra customer team, and it obviously wasn’t going to stop supplying the factory team or Red Bull, so Toro Rosso ended up being the bargaining chip in the various discussions which came to a head during the Italian Grand Prix weekend.
But whilst Renault, McLaren and to an extent Honda can all take positives from the game of musical chairs, Toro Rosso appears to have been left holding the short end of the stick.
The Honda deal is believed to be for three years and also comes with a side of McLaren gearboxes, so that’s not too bad, but in addition Toro Rosso has lost Carlos Sainz – one of the most talented young guys in the sport – to Renault.
And although Honda has shown signs of improvement in recent races, there’s still a chance the engines will be just as unreliable and underpowered as they have been since they returned to the sport in 2015.
Of course, things could all work out fine and if Honda suddenly remembers how to build a decent engine, then Red Bull could stand to benefit as well. It’s an intriguing situation, and there’s probably more to it than initially meets the eye.
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