Toro Rosso pair set for penalties as Honda brings upgrade

Honda has decided to introduce its upgraded engine for this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, consigning both its Toro Rosso drivers to grid penalties.

Toro Rosso pair set for penalties as Honda brings upgrade

The Japanese car manufacturer has been working on new developments for several months, and had been weighing where best to introduce them as an early test of its 2019 project.

Eager for a good showing at its home race at Suzuka next weekend, Honda confirmed on Thursday that it has elected to bring the new power units for Sochi so it would take penalties here.

A tweet from Honda confirmed: "We are introducing some power unit updates on both cars here in Sochi. We're looking at more performance in the long term, which does mean penalties here in the short term."

It is understood that the upgrade mostly concerns the internal combustion engine but affects other components as well. A full list of the new elements Honda will introduce will be communicated by the FIA later in the week.

Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly said he was unsure about how big a step forward the new engine would be, but he was hopeful it would be noticeable.

"We need to wait and see exactly all the positives from it, but we will have something, some insight," he said.

"We will surely start from the back of the grid, it's been a while since we had an update so it's all positive."

Some sources have suggested that the gains with the power unit could even lift Honda ahead of Renault in the power stakes, but Gasly was sceptical about there being too much of a leap.

"Honestly it is not precise yet, it's just an update on the engine side," he explained. "Let's see. I don't want to say too much before we see on track tomorrow what it will do exactly. It's an update so it should be positive."

Additional reporting by Oleg Karpov

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