MARINA BAY, Singapore -- Toro Rosso has confirmed it will be powered by Honda in 2018 after entering into a multi-year partnership with the Japanese engine manufacturer.
The news is part of a wider deal that will see McLaren end its existing partnership with Honda at the end of the year and take on Toro Rosso's current Renault engine supply next season.
Although Honda has produced the least competitive power unit every year since returning to the sport in 2015, the Toro Rosso contract makes sense for parent company Red Bull which could end up switching to Honda when its current Renault deal expires at the end of 2018. By running and monitoring the Honda power unit in the junior Toro Rosso team for a year, Red Bull will be better prepared should it make the swap in 2019.
In order to break its deal with Renault, Toro Rosso had to release Carlos Sainz to the Renault works team for 2018, which formed a separate announcement on Friday.
Speaking about the deal when it was announced, Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said: "Everyone in our team is very much looking forward to working with Honda. Ever since its founder Soichiro Honda entered his motorcycles in events, racing has always been a central part of the company's ethos. It's a very exciting challenge and I hope that both parties will gain a great deal from it as we develop together.
"Honda has a long history in Formula One, dating back to 1964 when it first entered the sport with its own team and, as an engine supplier it has taken five Drivers' World Championship titles and six Constructors. This heritage, together with the full confidence that we have in Honda's capabilities to succeed, make me strongly believe that we will achieve a fruitful future together."
Takahiro Hachigo, president and representative director of the Honda Motor Co. added: "Toro Rosso is an experienced team with a youthful energy and history of nurturing the stars of the future. Everyone at Honda is looking forward to working with Toro Rosso, and we are excited to start this new chapter in our Formula One journey with them. I would like to express our appreciation to Liberty Media and the FIA for their cooperation toward the realization of this partnership. Honda and Toro Rosso will work as one team to strive for progress and a successful future together. We appreciate the support of our fans as we begin this challenge."
The switch from one power unit to another will require some fundamental changes to Toro Rosso's car for next year, but technical director James Key is confident the team can adapt in time.
"It will be a question of adaption of our plans rather than a wholesale change and we are in the process of re-planning our design and production activities in conjunction with Honda to ensure that we both hit all our important deadlines. There are some challenges to face given the time of year but Toro Rosso has faced many difficult tasks with timing in the past and has the flexibility to deal with it.
"We will be working hard not to only re-design the PU installation but also ensure that this has minimal or no effect on the ongoing development work for 2018 - that is our current target. The architecture of the car will change in line with the PU requirements and our chassis and gearbox designs are currently under review to be adapted accordingly, similarly we will be working closely with Honda on the performance aspects of the PU installation that the chassis will influence to ensure we maximise the potential of the package as a whole from the outset. We look forward to a strong, stable and proactive partnership with our colleagues at Honda."