Sauber may have canceled its deal with Honda to run its engines in Formula One next season, but the Japanese manufacturer isn’t giving up just yet.
According to the latest from Autosport, Honda has been holding discussions with other teams in search of one that will use its power units. And the leading candidate appears to be Toro Rosso.
The Italian team has been on the grid for over a decade now. It ran a Cosworth engine in its first season, but has since switched back and forth between Ferrari and Renault power. It’s the latter that the team is running this year, albeit under its own brand (much as Red Bull is running the same Renault engines with TAG Heuer branding).
Of the other teams on the grid, Ferrari, Mercedes, and Renault make their own powertrains. McLaren already runs Honda engines, while Sauber has ruled it out. That leaves Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Williams, Force India, and Haas. Given the superior performance demonstrated this season by the Ferrari and Mercedes power units, neither Williams, Force India, nor Haas are likely to switch to Honda power. That leaves Red Bull and Toro Rosso, and Red Bull isn’t likely to switch from an underperforming powertrain to an even poorer one – nor is McLaren likely to welcome the idea. That, in turn, leaves Toro Rosso as the most likely candidate, though the deal is anything but certain at this point.
For its part, Honda apparently feels that the added data from running a second team would help it learn that much faster than it has based only on the information it gleans from its partnership with McLaren. But as Autosport points out, Toro Rosso’s arrival wouldn’t necessarily mean McLaren staying. Woking has made no secret of its discontent with the Honda power units, but with Mercedes and Ferrari uninterested in powering their rival, and Renault fully loaded with four teams to motivate, the opening of a slot on the French manufacturer’s roster could leave McLaren switching places with Toro Rosso.