Honda boss Yusuke Hasegawa leaves team in management shake-up

Logo of the Honda Motor Co.is seen on the body of the 1988 McLaren Honda MP4/4 Formula One auto at Honda's headquarters in Tokyo May 16, 2013.

Toyoharu Tanabe, engineer on Jenson Button's auto at Honda's F1 team in 2006-7, will become technical director.

Honda, starting a new partnership with Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso from January, said in a statement on Thursday that Hasegawa's position would be split into two separate functions. Now employed as a senior manager at Honda Performance Development in the US, Tanabe has been with Honda since 1984, working in F1 alongside the likes of Gerhard Berger (at McLaren) and Jenson Button (at BAR-Honda) as well as in IndyCars.

An operating officer, yet to be named, will take charge of research and development at Sakura in Japan while Hasegawa remains executive chief engineer.

"In the past, the Head of F1 Project assumed responsibility in both technological development and directing the team at the spot of racing", said Katsuhide Moriyama, Honda's Chief Officer for Brand and Communication Operations.

In three seasons, the team's best finish in the constructors' championship was sixth in 2016, but in a disastrous 2017 campaign the team dropped back to finish next to last with engine unreliability and underperformance plaguing the McLaren-Honda cars.

McLaren began an engine-supply deal with Honda hoping to revive the glory days of their relationship in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost won four consecutive world drivers' titles - three for the Brazilian and one for the Frenchman.

Their time together was beset with poor reliability and a lack of performance from a Honda engine struggling to compete with rivals. Toro Rosso have New Zealander Brendon Hartley and France's Pierre Gasly.