Toro Rosso F1 boss Franz Tost believes the team and Honda will discuss taking tactical engine changes this year, as there could be performance gains to be had from using fresher power units.
Formula 1 teams are bracing themselves for a tough time in managing engine life in 2018 – with new rules liming them to just three power units (and two MGU-K, energy store and control electronics) for the 21-race season.
Manufacturers have worked hard over the winter to prepare for the challenge, but Tost believes that the power drop off that comes as an engine reaches the end of its life means there could be benefits to deliberately taking a fourth power unit instead.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Tost said that he had no doubts the issue would come up later in the campaign and that he and Honda would have to work out whether dropping down the grid order was negated by having more horsepower available.
"There will come the period where we have to find out if is it better to start with a new power unit from the back instead of using an engine that will have 3000-4000 kilometres on it, and you start losing power after one or two hundred kilometres," he said.
"So we will see. But I can tell you now that we will have this discussion. I don't know when, but we will have it."
Tost thinks it is 'crazy' that F1 has stuck with the three-engine limit, after attempts to Red Bull to get the rule changed met resistance.
"Last year manufacturers tried with four engines and less races, and this year we have more races and less engines," he said. "I must only say they are totally crazy with this regulation.
"But Ferrari was against it [changing the rules], because others wanted to go with four. They [Ferrari] think they have an advantage with three. And it is within the regulations so we have to live with it.
"We have to accept it and how many power units at the end we will need I don't know."
Tost's comments about the Honda situation come after Renault admitted that it too was considering the possibility of tactical engine changes this year.
Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul said: "We want to establish the baseline, we want to know a bit more about ourselves, the performance of the engine as it is right now.
"If it's better for everyone to use four power units or four V6s, rather than three, we may take that decision. But it's really too early to talk about that."