The 2018 Formula One season is upon us and if the season is anything like testing in Barcelona, it's going to be quite a ride. I won't go into the ramblings of what the series should or shouldn't do now that Liberty Media is at the helm, but I will talk about one of the more exciting things... the new for 2018 partnership between Scuderia Toro Rosso and Honda F1. If you follow F1 you'll already know this, but for those that don't, the legendary partnership between Honda F1 and McLaren that began in 2015, ended abruptly last season. The prospect of bringing Honda back to F1 was a glorious one... and partner with one of the all-time greats, McLaren, the combination was studded with love and hope.
History, however, did not repeat itself in this case. In fact, throughout the last three Formula One seasons, McLaren-Honda never won a championship. They never won a race. They never even finished higher than 5th. Even worse... over the last three seasons, McLaren-Honda only managed to gather 133 manufacturer points. To put that into perspective... the reigning World Championship Team, Mercedes, has racked up 2,136 Championship points. What a sad time it is to be a Honda F1 fan. Or is it?
Now that we are past Alonso's bashing of the Honda power unit, we can all breathe a sigh of relief as his problems will no longer fall on Honda's shoulders. So, we welcome the new era of Honda in F1 and we will call them...
Scuderia Toro Rosso - Honda.
It's a mouthful and a partnership less-Superbowl-MVP-ish and more, 3rd-string QB-ish, but hey... they are still playing the same game, right? We will take it. Honda's commitment to racing and being an engine supplier in Formula One has never come easy. Honda quit F1 back in the 60s when one of their cars crashed, killing the driver. Honda quit F1 after the 2008 season and sold the factory team to Ross Brawn who would then go on to win the 2009 F1 World Championship with the always loveable Jenson Button.
But I digress...
McLaren has moved to Renault engines which also power top-tier F1 team Red Bull Racing as well as their own factory works team, Renault F1. With the split, Honda was forced to partner with "mid-pack" team Scuderia Toro Rosso. An Italian based F1 team owned by the beverage company Red Bull, Scuderia Toro Rosso (STR) is essentially the sister program to the World Champion Red Bull Racing team. They are owned by the same company but operated independently.
Now STR team has a works engine program and years of Formula One and engineering experience only reserved for serious F1 teams. Some people are upset at the switch. Some people are happy for Alonso and McLaren. I have no stake in the matter but I am partial to Honda's success so I will support the STR-Honda team this year and hope that they can continue to develop a power unit and chassis that will bring the sister RBR team to Honda power for 2019.
The 2018 STR13 is powered by the Honda RA618H power unit which is an evolution of the last few years of hard engineering work. A direct injected, turbocharged V6 hybrid power plant that spins to 15,000 RPM outputting an estimate 1,000hp. This is one of the most complex hybrid-electric internal combustion engines ever made and it isn't hard to understand why. We hope Honda has made the necessary adjustments to this iteration to avoid issues from the past three years.
Testing is almost finished in Barcelona so the season is getting close. We are now only a few weeks away from the first 2018 GP and STR Honda seems to be getting along well. They have managed to put down hundreds of test laps compared to the handful of problem-filled laps they did last year with McLaren.
Stats at a glance look great considering STR-Honda's first outing as a partner. They have put hundreds of miles on the new engine and chassis and plan on increasing the power output of the engine as the season opener gets closer. Let's hope the team continues to work together as they prepare for lights out on the grid! Good luck guys!
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