Toro Rosso-Honda Formula 1 deal announced for 2018

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Scuderia Toro Rosso will link up with Japanese manufacturer Honda in Formula 1 next season after signing a multi-year deal, announced on Friday in Singapore.

After returning to F1 as an engine manufacturer in 2015, Honda has endured three difficult years exclusively supplying McLaren, with the British team opting to cut ties at the end of the current season.

Eager to remain in the sport, a deal was struck for Honda to work with Toro Rosso from 2018, with the team’s existing Renault engine supply moving in the opposite direction to McLaren.

The deal was confirmed shortly after first practice for the Singapore Grand Prix, ending months of speculation about Honda’s future in the sport.

“Scuderia Toro Rosso is pleased to announce that it has reached a multi-year agreement with Honda Motor Co. Ltd. to run Honda power units starting from the 2018 Formula 1 season,” a statement from Toro Rosso reads, with confirmation of Renault’s departure coming earlier in the day.

“Everyone in our team is very much looking forward to working with Honda,” Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said.

“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 1, 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.”

Honda president and representative director Takahiro Hachigo 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 1 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 Toro Rosso-Honda deal is also shaping up to be a pre-cursor for a possible deal with the senior Red Bull team in 2019, with speculation emerging in Singapore that Renault is looking to end its contract at the end of next season.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
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Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.