While, in all honesty, Brendon Hartley failed to set the F1 grid alight last season, his cause was hardly helped by the fact that his team was being used as a guinea pig in preparation for Red Bull‘s switch to Honda power this season. Over the course of the year the kiwi was hit with grid penalties totalling 150 places, with teammate Pierre Gasly incurring 120.
Weeks ahead of pre-season testing, when we will get to see the Red Bull-Honda in action for the first time, Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost has admitted that his team is likely to be used as a test bench once again, meaning that its all-new line up, comprising Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon, is likely to pick up numerous penalties of its own as the Japanese manufacturer seeks to refine its power unit for Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly.
“If that helps the strategy for Red Bull to win races and the world championship, of course,” Tost told Motorsport.com, when asked if his team was likely to continue taking penalties on behalf of its ‘big sister’.
“We do not even need to discuss this, it’s within our philosophy,” he continued. “I’m more than happy with it, because in parallel we also improve the performance.”
Despite a step forward for Honda in 2018, Toro Rosso finished ninth in the standings, however, with Red Bull now using the same engine he believes this will benefit his own team, Honda having said it will gain a “big advantage” from the data supplied by two teams and the fact that the Faenza outfit’s car will feature the same rear end and suspension as the RB15 .
“There’s no doubt that we will profit from the synergies and the co-operation with Red Bull Technologies,” said the Austrian. “It’s the whole rear end. We have to develop within the rules all the list of parts, and this of course we will do because we stick to the rules.
“All the teams at this stage of the year hope that the new car works better and is an improvement,” he admitted. “This is the same for us, but I always say that I want to see the performance on the race track, which means the lap time. This is decisive.”
Of course, while one can understand sister teams wishing to aid one another, such a move surely makes a mockery of the rules, whilst also effectively compromising Kvyat and Albon before they’ve even turned a wheel.