Villeneuve no fan of Toro Rosso's Honda deal

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve at the Italian Grand Prix
© XPB 

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve says that he has a dim view of Toro Rosso's recently announced decision to link up with beleaguered engine manufacturer Honda.

Toro Rosso has stepped to take over as Honda's works team from McLaren. It means that the Italian team will now receive free engines as a result of the deal - a significant financial boost.

But it's believed that Toro Rosso will get only a fraction of the $100 million in cash that Honda previously paid to McLaren as part of their arrangement.

Villeneuve predicted that the free engines wouldn't make up for the sort of poor engine performance and reliability exhibited by Honda's engines since their return to Formula 1 in 2015.

"I don't understand Toro Rosso," said Villeneuve told Autosport magazine. "They have seen what has been happening for three years. How can they imagine this will help them?

"Whenever you go and take money to go slower, after two years you pay the price," he complained. "Okay, there is more money in the account. But to run last?

"It's like when teams start taking slow pay drivers. Two years later, they are dead," he warned. "McLaren survived it because it's McLaren. Now we're talking Toro Rosso.

"You have to be careful," he warned. "It's a big gamble."

Toro Rosso management clearly hopes that Honda is on the brink of curing the chronic problems with its power unit that have bedevilled it over the last three season.

Villeneuve, however, was entirely unconvinced that this would happen.

"Have we seen anything to suggest they can?" he asked. "They need a new engine. The whole project was started wrong.

"It needs to be a full change," he added. "Unless someone else makes the engine and Honda puts its name on it. Which is possible, I guess."

Villeneuve suggested that Honda would find it even more difficult now to make progress with a small team like Toro Rosso than it had with a technically well-endowed, large organisation like McLaren.

Toro Rosso's senior Red Bull team is hoping that the Honda gamble will pay off in time for them to make their own switch to the Japanese manufacturer in 2019.

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