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Toro Rosso "sweetener" doesn't make sense

NEWS STORY
11/09/2017

While in no way doubting the claims being made over the weekend, some of the issues raised simply do not make sense.

It is claimed that Carlos Sainz is heading to Renault as a "sweetener" as Toro Rosso seeks to obtain an engine supply deal from Honda for 2018.

Indeed, it is claimed that the Spaniard could be sitting alongside Nico Hulkenberg as early as Malaysia.

Wasn't it just a couple of races ago that Sainz - much like a spoiled child - was being publicly chastised by Helmut Marko and Christian Horner after he said he intended to move on to another team, frustrated at the thought of another season with the Faenza outfit.

In no uncertain terms, Sainz was publicly reminded that he owed his F1 career entirely to Red Bull which had supported him through the ranks and brought him to the F1 grid. The Spaniard, suitably chastened, subsequently admitted the error of his ways.

Yet now, Toro Rosso - by which we mean Red Bull - is willing and ready to give him away to another teams as a sweetener.

A sweetener to obtain an engine that is currently the laughing stock of the grid and one that other teams wouldn't touch with the proverbial bargepole.

Most dictionaries define "sweetener" as "an inducement, typically in the form of money or a concession".

All of which gives further support to our theory that Red Bull is indeed playing the long game. Weary of the ongoing issues with its current engine supplier it is looking for an alternative, and with Mercedes and Ferrari ruled out, the only alternative is Honda.

Should Toro Rosso suffer the sort of season in 2018 that McLaren has endured for the last three years, no doubt there will be further threats and demands. Whereas if the Honda suddenly comes good in the back of the Faenza cars, 'big Sister' will be only too happy to take on the supply for 2019.

Curiously, in all the reports at the weekend, McLaren, which is at the root of all this, is merely a footnote, the Woking outfit gaining a supply of Renault power units as a result of the kindness and self-sacrifice of its rivals.

As we said, we don't doubt the claims, what we don't understand is why it is Toro Rosso (Red Bull) offering the sweeteners and not McLaren, after all, on the face of it, the Woking outfit's needs are greater.

Indeed, if Sainz is in the second Renault before the end of the season, it says more about Red Bull's situation and needs – dare we use the word desperation? - than McLaren's.

What was a story about McLaren - and Fernando Alonso's - future, has now become something entirely different. Indeed, the legendary Woking outfit's bit-part role in all this underlines just how irrelevant the team is rapidly becoming.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Editor, 12/09/2017 9:54

"What I perhaps failed to make clear in the piece is that for as long as any of us can remember, this was about Honda and McLaren.

That was the epicentre of the story, for it involved the futures of not only Honda and McLaren but Fernando Alonso also.

Now, at the climax, McLaren is barely mentioned - though it is getting what it wants, Renault engines and Fernando - while Toro Rosso, and thereby Red Bull, takes centre stage.

Indeed, it is even Toro Rosso, and thereby Red Bull, which is making the sacrifice, in this case relinquishing Carlos Sainz.

Red Bull can sit back and allow Toro Rosso to play guinea pig for a year (or two) and then, if all is well, step in and take over the Honda engines. If not, it sticks with Renault and waits on an alternative.

It is indeed a high octane game of chess; fact is however, that one of the original players, McLaren, no longer appears to be sitting at the board.

Finally, at a time of talk of budget caps and curbs on spending etc, how ironic that one team can allow/afford its 'sister' to play guinea pig for a year or two."

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2. Posted by Tombstone, 12/09/2017 8:42

"@ Chris Balfe

Quote: And Zak's got a title sponsor lined up for 2018 hasn't he?

It's not entirely impossible that a potential title sponsor won't back McLaren until they ditch Honda for, at the very least, a more reliable power unit."

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3. Posted by TokyoAussie, 12/09/2017 4:28

"If the surmise is correct, I put that down as yet another reason why 1 owner should not be allowed to have 2 teams in the championship."

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4. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 11/09/2017 20:05

"McLaren should suck it up and stay with Honda. The Renault isn't enough of a step up compared to Merc or Ferrari. Honda if they aren't already need to throw the kitchen sink at this situation and fix it over the off season. If Honda can't do that then McLaren should get things sorted for a new supplier next May. Adding another year of pain won't make a lot of difference now and potential gain could (wishful thinking) happen."

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5. Posted by -ape-, 11/09/2017 19:20

"Not so strange ,
Red Bull , Mac and Honda make a deal. The facts we don't know.
But Renault say; " why should we play along.".

The others ask what do you want Renault ? Sainz !
ok . we three split the costs of that transfer. "

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6. Posted by cd17, 11/09/2017 18:49

"Red Bull's (Tilbrook) Milton Keynes factory is less than 5 miles from Honda's UK engine factory (Winterhill), MK.
This starts to make a bit more sense for the long term planning of RBR."

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7. Posted by Editor, 11/09/2017 17:47

"@ NS Biker

The deal between Toro Rosso and Honda won’t be the same as that between McLaren and Honda.

Toro Rossi is likely to be a customer not a partner so there won’t be the money flowing in the McLaren benefited from."

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8. Posted by NS Biker, 11/09/2017 16:43

"No mention of the FIA and their desire to keep Honda in the game.
Red Bull clearly playing the long game. This is long in terms of the next 3 years. Smart.
Lots said about McLaren loosing the Honda-Money. I recall seeing that McLaren claims they are loosing more in sponsorship $$$ because of poor performance. They also need to retain staff and another season like the last won't help.
Toro Rosso gets Honda $$$, reduced Power Unit costs and the teaser that Honda will finally come good.
Honda saves face, of critical importance in the Land of The Rising Sun.
All round, it looks like a well played chess match.
Oh, and Red Bull gets to swap out some drivers new and "old"."

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9. Posted by apreading, 11/09/2017 15:38

"It might make sense if Honda have a condition too that Toro Rosso run a Japanese driver in return for money?"

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10. Posted by Jacon, 11/09/2017 12:40

"I don't believe so. They need higher finishes for that and they know it. I also suspect they might start to struggle with retaining key staff if they don't at least start racing for 3rd/4th in Championship. Mercedes should walk all the championships with this engine format. That could still be the case with the constructors. Ferrari may prove me wrong and get a drivers title, but I doubt it will be more than one."

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11. Posted by Editor, 11/09/2017 12:21

"@ Jacon

And Zak's got a title sponsor lined up for 2018 hasn't he?"

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12. Posted by Jacon, 11/09/2017 12:14

"I think McLaren have worked out that neither a Honda or Renault engine has any chance to win the championship before the new engine formula in 2021. They are simply after better results and maybe a few wins to attract sponsors while they wait for the new rules. Red Bull are also keeping options open as they think Honda could be a possibility in 2021, and they don't have to directly run this Honda engine in the meantime (as McLaren would have if they stayed with Honda)."

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13. Posted by RJones11, 11/09/2017 11:07

"Makes perfect sense for Renault anyway tbh. Red Bull see a way out of the Renault engine deal in a couple of years if they come good. Mclaren get a slightly better engine (which they believe with their chassis will put them at the front of the grid, seeing as Red Bull can do it).
So Renault have seen an chance to get what they want and hold them to ransom a bit, its no skin off their nose who they give the engine to, so why not make something out of it that they want, I know I would so fair play to Renault."

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