Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley has been a unique asset to the team as he brings a fresh perspective as a WEC world champion in the LMP1 class.
“The great thing with Brendon coming in is that he’s got a different take on things,” James Key said.
“The way he had to save fuel, save tires, use energy is a completely fresh input into this, so there’s definitely some valuable insight into what we are doing that we wouldn’t have had if we’d taken more of a standard approach with a single-seater driver.
“The technologies are different enough that there’s no technical transfer, but it’s more the process that you go through and the way that you look at it.
“I think it’s been good for Honda, but it’s been good for the whole team to get that fresh and unique insight.”
Certainly the fuel saving has to be an advantage for Hartley. The key to an endurance race is the car sympathy as well as limiting the time in the time in the pits. Given the fierce competition in recent years, the World Endurance Championship has been like a 24-hour sprint and fuel is critical.
“I think where it can be an advantage is I’m quite used to having to be very efficient because we were so restricted on fuel there,” said Hartley.
“So if we get to a race where we are very restricted on fuel, I feel like it’s a good strength. Obviously, working on such a project is all valuable; all experience is good experience.”
One of the interesting juxtapositions is the hybrid power unit in F1 versus LMP class racing. The challenge of making a hybrid system for a 4-wheel drive car is mountainous and takes very sophisticated designs which prompts the reality that the series can be just as expensive for the top teams as it is in F1.
Having said that, I would expect them to be pushing to technology of road cars as it seems more road relevant and closer to what the consumer identifies with. Not that F1 isn’t, but as an incubator and rapid prototyping lab for technology, it is farther removed with systems such as the MGU-H. Brendon says the Porsche had more room for driver input.
“There’s less input in F1 because it’s not a four-wheel-drive car,” said Hartley.
“Having 4WD and electric engine controlling just the front axle and the combustion engine only controlling the rear, there was a lot of driver input to make these two work seamlessly.
“There’s a few things to manage in the race and behind the scenes, but generally speaking there’s not so much for the driver and there’s enough simulation and enough behind all the teams that they get it right pretty much from the word go.”
If you listened to our interview with McLaren’s Zak Brown, I asked him if Fernando Alonso’s time racing in other series was a benefit when he got back in the F1 car and he said, resoundingly, “Yes, definitely”.
For Honda, it also has to be good to have a driver that can bring a host of skills, varying car dynamics and process to the team and combined, perhaps Toro Rosso can accelerate the program even more.
Speaking of WEC and Toro Rosso, the former Manor GP boss and Toro Rosso race director, John Booth, has resigned from the team:
“My involvement with Toro Rosso came to a natural end. Maybe I look too old for Formula 1 now. Is that enough?” Booth told Autosport.
Having been int eh roll since 2016, Booth tried in vain to keep Manor alive and still has a presence in the WEC with the team which is what he will focus on next running two Ginetta cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class.
“Let’s explain it this way: At my age, you get tired of all these flights and hotels and so on,” said Booth.
“On the other hand I like to travel privately… I might even go back to Japan sometime.”
“From now on I will fully concentrate on our programme in the LMP1 class,” Booth added.
“We have a lot planned, even though we won’t have a chance against Toyota. We don’t have a hundred million euros. And in the LMP1 it’s the same as in Formula 1: you can buy performance.”
Hat Tip: Autosport