Just in time for their home race, Honda added a major upgrade to their power units for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. That in turn added increased pressure for the Toro Rosso team as they said this past week that they expected to make Q3 in Saturday’s qualifying session.
Honda wanted a strong on track presence in their home race at Suzuka and Toro Rosso had to deliver.
They did so too.
Brendon Hartley qualified his No. 28 Honda sixth while his teammate Pierre Gasly earned the seventh starting spot for Sunday’s race. Both drivers backed up those lofty expectations with Hartley earning his best career starting spot.
It was the first time that both drivers earned a top seven starting spot and now Hartley is hoping to secure his best finish of the season too. His previous best was a 10th place run in Azerbaijan.
While Toro Rosso was strong, one of the Red Bull cars once again faltered. Daniel Ricciardo’s power unit failed him with a throttle sensor problem on his first lap of Q2. He never made a time and will start 15th as a result.
It’s just another long list of power unit problems for the Australian as what’s weird is that despite Red Bull Racing moving to Honda in 2019, Ricciardo will remain with Renault and move over to the Renault organization next year. Despite that, his power unit keeps on failing him.