Honda believe they have the best opportunity to return to winning ways this season with their partnership with Red Bull Racing, with Managing Director Masashi Yamamoto hoping this can be achieved before the summer break.
The season-opening Australian Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen earn Honda’s first podium result since 2008 when he finished third behind the two Mercedes-AMG Motorsport drivers, with his drive including an overtake of Sebastian Vettel’s Scuderia Ferrari, and now Yamamoto wants to build on this and fight for their first race victory of the V6 turbo-hybrid era.
“This is a very important year for us because we’ve started with two teams for the first time in the hybrid era,” said Yamamoto to Motorsport.com. “Now we have a situation that we can try to express how Honda tries to win.
“We hope to make it come true, maybe by around the summer. Hopefully, we wish to. We have now a chance to show our philosophy towards winning.”
Despite the strong start to the season, Yamamoto still feels Honda are behind both Mercedes and Ferrari in the power unit department, and there is more work to be done to bridge that gap to truly become a competitive entity in Formula 1 once more.
“We’re not trying to make the expectation low, but racing is the result, what matters is the result,” said Yamamoto. “We can see everything in the result. We have to pile up the technology and performance towards the race.
“Our honest feeling is that we haven’t reached the level of Ferrari and Mercedes as a PU. We have to go beyond [the current level].”
Whereas Honda are eying victories with Red Bull, the partnership with Scuderia Toro Rosso has much different targets, and there is an urgency to improve and fight at the front of the midfield battle and perhaps a podium result sometime this season.
“We have a different aim between the two teams,” said Yamamoto. “In terms of Red Bull, they are a top team: good drivers, management and chassis. [So] we have to make a good engine as Honda.
“If we can do that, we think we can walk the path towards winning with Red Bull. That’s what we have to do. In terms of Toro Rosso, we have established a relationship last year.
“We think we are on the way of improving. Something like a podium, or closer to those positions with Toro Rosso, we can show our progress. Each team we have a different direction or target.”