James Key believes Honda’s power unit could be on a par with Renault’s, saying it also wasn’t as far off last season as was “suggested.”
After a torrid three seasons with Honda, in which McLaren blamed Honda for all their troubles, the duo parted ways at the end of last season, paving the way for a new Toro Rosso-Honda partnership.
To date that is seems to be going along without any hiccups with the team laying down the laps in testing, and doing so free of any troubles.
As for power, Toro Rosso tech chief Key reckons the Honda unit isn’t lagging too far behind the Renault engine.
“I don’t know what Renault have done this year but we had a good feel for where the Renault was last year and at least from the numbers you see, which you always have to treat carefully because they are from different dynos etcetera, it’s not so far off,” he told Sky Sports News.
“Not nearly as far as was being suggested last year actually.
“It was probably pretty close to Renault towards the end of the season. And obviously they’ve made steps for this year and that’s encouraging.”
Key added that he has been impressed with Honda’s resillence as the Japanese manufacturer showed during last year’s championship.
“The good thing about what we saw from Honda last year is despite all the difficulties they had over the first half of the season they still had the capacity to go and develop the power unit and it definitely was better by the end of the year,” he said.
“That trend appears to have continued into this year and, as long as that trend continues, there’s no reason why they can’t genuinely be challenging Renault by mid-season or the end of season. That’s what we’d like.”