With Toro Rosso’s new partnership with Honda underway, their team principal Franz Tost has revealed that his team has been given training in “how to communicate with Japanese companies in the form of Honda.”
Innuendo about the difficulty of working with Japanese firms constantly surrounded the efforts of Toyota and Honda when they ran their own F1 teams in the 2000s. Neither team particularly flourished. In fact, they were both seen as rather bloated, with Japanese higher management struggling to see eye-to-eye with their European-based workforce.
The troubled nature of the relationship between McLaren and Honda over the last three years is said to have been partly caused by the radical difference in culture and communication between the two firms. The partnership seemed to be driven by the wrong motivation, and a false romantic hope of a return to McLaren–Honda’s glory days of the 1980s. But there was little to suggest the modern comeback would be more like the 1980s than Honda’s more recent “Earth car” nightmare.
I don’t doubt that McLaren made every effort to make the relationship with Honda work better. But it’s heartening to see Toro Rosso proactively making the effort to ensure their partnership with Honda gets off on the right foot by training their staff to prepare for the cultural differences.
After all, McLaren — to this outside observer, at least — doesn’t exactly seem like a straightforward company to work with either. Perhaps the cultural differences between two old firms stuck in their ways was always doomed to failure. But maybe a more flexible and pragmatic Toro Rosso could make things work.
Today’s news from testing bodes well for Toro Rosso–Honda. Their car completed 93 laps today. That’s more than anyone else bar the sister Red Bull car running a Renault engine.
Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso’s wheel came off his brand new McLaren after just a few laps. It wouldn’t be Alonso in a McLaren if the year started well.