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According to reports, Carlos Sainz has done a deal to move to from Toro Rosso to Renault Sport F1 as soon as the Malaysian Grand Prix but definitely for the 2018 season. This, the article says, paves the way for Toro Rosso to engage Honda for a engine supply deal that would free up McLaren to take the current Toro Rosso (STR) engine supply slot.

I’m not camped out in the paddock and other than McLaren desperately trying to find a way to improve their pace and retain Fernando Alonso, I am not quite sure what STR or Renault gain out of the deal other than Renault wanting to supply McLaren rather than STR and taking Sainz makes that possible. Fair enough, perhaps this deal has more than just two sets of hands on it with the FIA and F1 and McLaren heavily involved as well to keep Honda in the series as well as keep Alonso, arguably one of the sport’s biggest stars, in the series as well.

Either way, it’s good if Honda stays, Alonso stays and Sainz gets a more competitive ride. In the end, as a fan, I think it is a good solution even though I would have stayed with Honda had I been running McLaren for a host of reasons that go beyond the 2018 season. Regardless, I’m just a talking heap of meat and I don’t run either company or have a knife in the fight but as a fan, I am still happy for all involved.

It’s very important to F1 and the FIA to keep Honda in the sport and supporting their hybrid engine technology. Not that I am convinced that the entire racing world should be powered by the equivalent of the curly lightbulb but the sport needs manufacturers to lure teams, sponsors and fans. I like technology, I work in technology but I also like good racing and competitive teams and while an iPhone is terrific, at the end of the day, sometimes using the old analog method of moving air from a speaker to your ear is the best use of it regardless of how high tech it is.

For F1, I think the hybrid engines are impressive but not at the risk of good, competitive, exciting racing and I hope Honda will stay and the regulations will change in 2020 that can swing the pendulum away from F1 being an engineering nerd series intent of eliminating close racing and back to a driver’s series where people do and can make a difference at an affordable price contextually speaking. It will be important to have Honda, Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault all on board that notion as well.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • aelfwald

    For the life of me I can’t see why McLaren would swap rapidly improving free Honda engines with £100M per year to pay for a third tier supply of Renault engines that also have massive reliability issues and will gave only a short term increase of 15 bhp. And what’s more Honda are likely to have caught up with that power deficit by the end of the season. Madness.

    • jakobusvdl

      Unless McLaren are completely convinced that Honda can’t deliver a competitive p.u. in any useful time frame.
      And they’re the only ones able to see into Honda’s engineering team and their plans to make the p.u competitive.

    • the Late Idi Armin

      “rapidly improving” maybe, if you squint. Would you keep on going back to the workshop that leaves you stranded on the side of road on the way home from one of their “fixes”. not that the Renault is much better but the Red Bull shows its at least up near the front .

  • Chuck Voelter

    Toro Rosso taking on Honda engines feels strangely like Lewis going to Mercedes the year before they became dominant with their engine design – surely they know some things that we don’t……

  • fBobby Turkalino

    I don’t think this can be interpreted without reference to the conviction of Some Pundits that Toro Rosso is actively for sale and Red Bull may already be in the midst of an exit scheme to be completed in 2020.

  • Gaetano Colosi

    There is a piece of this jigsaw puzzle that eludes me. Why would RBR agree to give up Sainz?
    The Honda PU looks like the ‘hot potato’ in all this with McL desperate to be rid of it. TR get lumbered with it and give up a star driver for the privilege.

    • Jakub Wolnicki

      If Sainz is a star driver, why was Max Verstappen promoted to RBR instead?

      • Gaetano Colosi

        You may want to ask Kyvat if Sainz is a star driver. Kyvat has raced along side Ricciardo (who I think will be the next WDC when in a competitive enough car) and now Sainz. A quick look at the points table may be a guide to what Kyvat might say.

      • jakobusvdl

        Is it not possible that both Verstappen and Sainz are star drivers, but there was only one seat RBR were able to make available?

  • Matt

    Lol, red bull are the winners here.

    Remember when Ron Dennis refused them Honda’s when they tried to ditch Renault!

    Now they have a 1 or 2 year audition for the big team. If Honda can sort out their s#*t in relative privacy (compared to McLaren), then Red Bull will have all the data to choose the best of the 2 engines. They will then basically be a works engine team. As well that will be all the motivation Honda need I feel to get over the loss of face the McLaren saga has provided.

    Ron will be livid!

  • Tyrespin

    Honda should have supplied a backmarker first before Mclaren and developed their engine away from the spotlight.like they did in the early eighties before supplying Williams and later Mclaren. Alonso should have known better nobody should feel sorry for him, these are the most complex engines the sport has seen.

  • Prakhar Mehrotra

    I am not sure if Renault is gonna be that much better than the Honda. Just ask Max. Also judging by Alonso’s form in choosing teams, Honda is gonna come up with a winner next season.

  • 莫龍山

    “. . . to engage Honda for aN engine supply deal. . .”

    unless they’re going to go electric (please odin, may it never be. amen), it seems to me that F1 offers road cars much less in terms engine tech development than years past. and i’m skeptical that there’s much marketing value in having their road car engines being similar to F1 cars, so i think it’d make sense to come with a more simple, less expensive engine architecture. twin-turbo V-6s with no ERS would be nice, but naturally-aspirated would be even nicer for the higher revs and the sweet noise.

    it’s great that honda’s sticking around-if porsche enters the game, it might make up for the bloody halo devices.

    it might.

    • jakobusvdl

      There are quotes around from Ross Brawn and Pat Symonds (both in L.M’s technical group) saying that F1 is committed to hybrids in the long term.
      Which (to me) makes sense, as thats the main way fossil fueled vehicles can be made significantly more efficient, so that’s where F1 can develop and demonstrate the capabilities of the technology.
      They’re also talking about the 2021 units having an output of 1200 hp, so 200 to 300 up on the current units. That’s a lot of power, even if its pushing close on 800kg.

      • 莫龍山

        i don’t think it’s worth it. we’re very getting to the time when completely electric cars will supercede ICEs or hybrids. let’s just make good fun racing engines.

        • jakobusvdl

          Fully electric is still a long way off, unfortunately, as the generation and distribution infrastructure needs to be developed. So, I think we’re in for a period of transition, through hybrids.

  • jakobusvdl

    With Sainz joining Hulkenberg, R enault will have the drivers with the ‘best hair’ on the grid.
    Can any team challenge them?

  • Joe Saward thinks that Palmer might end up driving at Williams. Not a terrible bet, if you think about it. British driver with some $$ and Massa might finally retire for real after a season of mentorship with Stroll done.

    • Joe could certainly be correct, he’s boots on the ground and hears the discussions. IT would seem an odd move to me though. I agree that Massa could leave the series but there is also talk of Alonso and the reality is, there are a lot of younger drivers that might fit the bill…including British drivers. :)