Toro Rosso wants Japanese driver in its Formula 1 team for Honda

Toro Rosso wants to run a Japanese driver in Formula 1 "sooner or later" as part of its alliance with Honda

Toro Rosso wants Japanese driver in its Formula 1 team for Honda

The Red Bull junior team currently fields Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, both of whom have long-standing links with the energy drinks company.

Honda backs its own drivers in feeder categories, with Nirei Fukuzumi and Tadasuke Makino currently racing in Formula 2.

Fukuzumi finished third in GP3 last season and has been made a Red Bull athlete, though not a formal member of its junior team, making him the logical choice if he can secure a superlicence.

Asked if Fukuzumi was a driver option for next season, Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost replied: "Of course, there is the Honda link. And what we want is to have sooner or later a Japanese driver.

"Here, it is in his hands. He must show a good performance and then we will see."

Fukuzumi's GP3 result earned him 15 superlicence points, which means the 21-year-old needs to finish in the top four in F2 to meet the requirements for a race seat.

He has so far scored just one point in the opening six races and lies 18th in the championship.

That is one place and three points behind Makino, with whom Fukuzumi crashed in the previous race in Spain.

The option of fielding a Honda driver at Toro Rosso formed part of the early discussions the Japanese manufacturer has had with Red Bull over supplying the senior team with engines in 2019.

Honda motorsport boss Masashi Yamamoto told Autosport: "It is very important for Honda to make Formula 1, and motorsport, more popular once again in Japan.

"In that sense it's really important to have an F1 driver.

"The F2 drivers are fighting for the championship, they have to get the superlicence.

"For sure, adding a team gives us a better opportunity to put a driver at other teams."

Having a Honda protege eligible for selection would be a big help to Red Bull, which faces a possible driver dilemma.

Daniel Ricciardo's future with the senior team is unclear, and if Carlos Sainz Jr makes his Renault loan move permanent then Pierre Gasly could be promoted from Toro Rosso to partner Max Verstappen.

That would leave at least one seat available at Toro Rosso, although Hartley has also endured a tough first full season in F1 after his shock return to the Red Bull programme near the end of 2017 when Porsche's LMP1 effort came to an end.

shares
comments
Mercedes Formula 1 team 'bloody worried' about Monaco Grand Prix

Previous article

Mercedes Formula 1 team 'bloody worried' about Monaco Grand Prix

Next article

Fernando Alonso: Monaco Grand Prix leveller like throwing a dice

Fernando Alonso: Monaco Grand Prix leveller like throwing a dice
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Honda Racing F1 Team , Toro Rosso
Author Erwin Jaeggi
How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve Plus

How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve

Daniel Ricciardo has found a new lease of life at McLaren – a move that’s been years in the making, as he explains to STUART CODLING…

The German legend who raced and beat Nuvolari Plus

The German legend who raced and beat Nuvolari

Ninety years ago, Rudolf Caracciola became the first non-Italian to win the epic Mille Miglia. We look at how he stacks up to the most famous pre-war ace Tazio Nuvolari, one of the drivers he beat on that day in 1931

How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams Plus

How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams

Formula 1’s latest Imola adventure turned into an expensive trip for many teams due to several crashes throughout the weekend. While balancing the books is an added factor in 2021 with the cost cap, a few midfield teams have cashed in early on development investments

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings

A frantic wet race at Imola produced plenty of excitement and drama as drivers scrabbled for grip. Amid the hatful of mistakes and incidents that ensued, who kept their noses cleanest?

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves Plus

How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves

Rain before the start of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix promised to spice up the action, and the race certainly delivered on that. Max Verstappen got the best launch to win from Lewis Hamilton, but both got away with mistakes that could have had serious consequences

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era Plus

The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era

The first in a line of world beaters was designed in a back bedroom and then constructed in a shed. STUART CODLING recalls the Tyrrell 001

Formula 1
Apr 18, 2021
The clues Hamilton’s F1 contract afterthought gives to his future Plus

The clues Hamilton’s F1 contract afterthought gives to his future

The Formula 1 world reacted with surprise when it learned Lewis Hamilton’s long-awaited new Mercedes deal guarantees his presence on the grid only until the end of 2021. Both parties claimed publicly they were happy with the arrangement but, asks MARK GALLAGHER, is there more to it than that?

Formula 1
Apr 17, 2021
How a harshly ejected Red Bull star has been hooked by racing again Plus

How a harshly ejected Red Bull star has been hooked by racing again

Driver-turned-DJ Jaime Alguersuari lost his love for motorsport when he was booted out of Formula 1 just as he was starting to polish his rough edges. Having drifted from category to category then turned his back on racing altogether in 2015, he’s come full circle and is planning a return in karts for fun

Formula 1
Apr 17, 2021