Brendon Hartley gives thumbs-up to new Honda Formula 1 engine
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Brendon Hartley is hailing his Toro Rosso Formula 1 team's first winter test as a huge success.
The Kiwi driver managed to get plenty of laps in on his first day behind the wheel of the Honda-powered Toro Rosso but was hampered by bad weather on his second session and the third day overall of the four-day Barcelona test.
Teammate Pierre Gasly was able to complete plenty of laps on his two allocated days (days two and four) as teams battled particularly wintery conditions.
"Right now it is actually alright – I think it is 14 or 15 degrees," Hartley told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking this morning. "Unfortunately I am a spectator today so my teammate Pierre Gasly has driving duties on the warmest day of the week, which was a little bit frustrating.
"We had snow yesterday and very cold rain, which meant I didn't do a lap. It was a bit annoying but it was the same for everyone else."
Both Toro Rosso drivers posted fastest laps that suggest improvement based on last year but timing is virtually irrelevant in these circumstances
At winter tests there are a huge number of variables that make comparisons pointless while teams try not to show rivals what they really have to play with. Tyres, fuel loads, car set-up and the abnormally cold conditions combine to make for rogue times.
Toro Rosso, having made the off-season move from Renault power to Honda, would have just wanted to clock up as many miles as possible over the past four days and hope there were no reliability issues. They got exactly what they wanted if that was the case.
"Really, really good," Hartley said of the performance of the Honda engine over the four-day event. "I have been pretty switched off for the last couple of months. I have tried not to have too much contact with the team and just focus on training but I did have a couple of meetings over the last couple of weeks and everyone at the factory has been quietly optimistic about this new partnership with Honda.
"Coming here on the first day and no reliability issues, reliability was great, everything went smooth and we made great progress overnight.
"Honestly it is going really well."
A second four-day test awaits next week before the season-opening race in Melbourne at the end of the month.