The Toro Rosso Formula 1 team could pay the price in the near future for taking Honda engines, says 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.
After three frustrating seasons, Honda split with McLaren and agreed a three-year deal from 2018 with Toro Rosso that will make the Italian outfit its works operation.
While McLaren received in the region of $100million per year from Honda as part of their arrangement, Motorsport.com understands Toro Rosso will not be getting the same cash injection.
However, Honda will provide free engines as part of the deal, therefore providing a net financial gain for the Red Bull junior outfit.
“I don’t understand Toro Rosso,” said Villeneuve when asked by Motorsport.com for his reaction to the deal.
“They have seen what has been happening for three years. How can they imagine this will help them? OK, there is more money in the account, but to run last?
“Whenever you go and take money to go slower, after two years you pay the price. It’s like when teams start taking slow pay drivers. Two years later, they are dead.
“It’s a big gamble, unless someone else makes the engine and Honda puts its name on it, which is possible, I guess.”
Honda is believed to have no intention of getting a rival manufacturer to build an engine that it can badge and is fully focused on developing its own 2018-spec unit that will be an evolution of the current design.
Unreliability and a lack of performance across the three years it worked with McLaren were the core reasons for the partnership being dissolved.
The Japanese manufacturer is hopeful for an upturn in performance next year, having made gains this year.
But when Villeneuve was asked if he felt Honda could turn things around, he said: “Why? Have we seen anything to suggest they can?
“They need a new engine. The whole project was started wrong. It needs to be a full change. If you take a small team like Toro Rosso, it makes it even more difficult.”