Honda motorsport boss Masashi Yamamoto knows that the Japanese marque sill have “room for improvement” in their engine ahead of their move to supply two teams for 2019.
Following their split from the McLaren F1 Team at the end of 2017, Honda moved to partner with Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda in ’18 and will cater for Toro Rosso and senior squad Aston Martin Red Bull Racing for the upcoming season.
Last season saw Honda make gains in overall power output from their engines but continue to lag behind the frontrunning manufacturers in outright performance and reliability.
Yamamoto acknowledged that there were positives to their 2018 season and thanked Toro Rosso and drivers Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley for their work and help in development over the year. Gasly has followed Honda to Red Bull as Daniel Ricciardo‘s successor alongside Max Verstappen.
“Over the course of the year we improved our power unit in terms of performance and reliability, thanks to the huge efforts of our engineers and mechanics,” said Yamamoto in an interview with Honda last month.
“Everyone at Toro Rosso and both its drivers played a big part in our development, not just on the technical front, but also thanks to their open-minded and positive attitude and cheerful disposition.
“This was a great boost for all Honda members.”
Although Toro Rosso registered its lowest points total for four years and suffered ten retirements – not all engine related – there were standout performances. Gasly took a career best finish of fourth in Bahrain and both drivers showed solid qualifying pace in Hungary and Japan, the latter seeing Hartley and Gasly start sixth and seventh respectively at Honda’s home event.
“We established a close and honest relationship, built on mutual respect and that produced some strong performances, such as those in Bahrain, Hungary and our qualifying in Suzuka,” Yamamoto added.
“For this, our sincere thanks go to the entire team.
“However, it was clear that our PU is still not at the same level as the very best in terms of performance and there is also room for improvement when it comes to reliability.
“Next season, we will supply two teams for the first time since we returned to F1 in 2015. We must do better and, with that in mind, everyone involved in the project is working relentlessly to be in good shape for pre-season testing in February.”