Red Bull Toro Rosso-Honda‘s technical director James Key believes that his team can throw up some surprises in 2018, their first year with a works engine deal.
The Faenza-based team pounced on Honda‘s availability following the McLaren F1 Team‘s decision to switch to customer Renault Sport power units, after a difficult three season spell with the Japanese giants, where reliability and power were hard to come by.
However, team principal Franz Tost has already seen the positives in their deal with Honda and Key is similarly buoyant about the 2018 season.
“It’s been a totally different world for us, working with Honda and working as a works team,” he told RACER.
“To have such a strong collaboration with your power unit supplier is new for Toro Rosso, but it’s an extremely welcome situation to have.
“Honda are excellent to work with. We’ve shared an extremely strong common goal and a very good working relationship to date, and there’s no reason why that won’t continue in exactly the same way.”
Key said that critics of Honda should be wary of discarding their chances in spite of their difficult return to Formula 1 – saying that both Honda and Toro Rosso are eager to right the wrongs of the previous year. Toro Rosso missed out on sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship to the Renault Sport Formula One Team at the final race in Abu Dhabi, but Key feels that the duo can “spring a few surprises” this time round.
“I’d like to think we can spring a few surprises this year,” he mused. “There’s obviously a lot of questions and you never know until you hit the track, but certainly on the Honda side they’re working extremely hard and they’re hoping to start off in a positive way.
It’s been an excellent experience. It’s been hard work because it’s a big responsibility, being the only team that’s working with a company as big and important as Honda.
“But I think the way we’ve done it and the way we’re working at the moment has been very positive.”