Honda more involved in new Toro Rosso partnership
Honda's recent restructuring of its Formula 1 division has meant it is now more involved in its new partnership with Toro Rosso than it was with former partner McLaren, according to Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe.
Previously Yusuke Hasegawa oversaw the entire project with McLaren, but following the divorce at the end of the 2017 season, that role was divided with Tanabe taking up a technical role and Yasuaki Asaki appointed operating officer in charge of HRD at Sakura to oversee research and development on the engine.
According to Katsuhide Moriyama, Honda's chief officer for brand and communication operations, that means quicker decisions and actions.
"In the past, the head of F1 project assumed responsibility in both technological development and directing the team at the spot of racing, by separating these areas of responsibility, we will evolve our structure so that both the development team and racing/testing team can assume their respective responsibilities more speedily."
This has allowed Tanabe to be more "hands-on" and involved in the decision making process with Toro Rosso than his predecessor was with McLaren.
"I’m more hands-on at the circuit," he explained. "I think in order to improve the performance, the development team on the Sakura side need accurate and precise information from trackside. That’s a priority. So we supply them with the information, they can react quickly and in a proper way to identify priorities.
"Some of the areas in F1 are the same as a long time ago, but then the engine has changed to a power unit so many areas have been changed recently.
"As I am just starting [in my role], I have started to learn when I am here. We also joined Toro Rosso this year, which is new to us. Not just to me, but to all of us. So nobody could tell me ‘this is the Toro Rosso way’, and we needed to find out every day how to manage and organise the trackside operation."
Honda motorsport general manager Masashi Yamamoto is confident in his new team and reckons the restructing is already paying off.
"Tanabe was in F1 during past eras of our challenge, and recently he was leading the IndyCar project, so naturally he has a lot of experience in trackside operations," added Yamamoto.
"His style of management is to go inside of the engineering room and collect the information and make decisions, rather than waiting for the information to be reported to him outside. Therefore he is able to show his leadership in very close cooperation both with Toro Rosso and our engineers.
"Asaki is a leader who has led some suffering projects at Honda to huge success in the past. He can always make the right decisions in terms of priorities – working out what is good and removing what is bad.
"In Sakura already, he starting by lining up all the ongoing developments in one place, and then made a decision about which one to focus on, abandoning the others. As a result, now we are putting more resources into one project which enables the development to proceed quicker."