Honda has hailed the ‘close and honest’ relationship with Toro Rosso which helped them to put up an improved overall performance in 2018 F1 season.

It was a strained break-up for Honda with McLaren at the end of the 2017 season after working for three years as partners in F1. The results never came for the two and the relation started to deteriorate as the seasons went by.

At the end of it, a large portion of blame was put on Honda by McLaren. The Japanese manufacturer then moved on with Toro Rosso in 2018 and signed up with Red Bull Racing for 2019 and beyond while McLaren joined hands with Renault.

There was immediate change in attitude with Toro Rosso from Honda as the pressure was less with the team allowing the manufacturer to develop the power units as per their liking which the team would then fit it into the car.

Even though the results were not always upto the mark, but the improvements could be seen both in the performance side and also reliability. In fact, a large portion of effort in the second half especially was devoted to build towards 2019 for Red Bull.

Over the season though, there were few highlights and in totality Honda and Toro Rosso worked out in smoother terms. The Japanese manufacturer believes the ‘close and honest’ relation helped them to work harder as it boosted their morale to extract more.

“2018 was the year when we embarked on our new partnership with Scuderia Toro Rosso,” said Honda’s motorsport head, Masashi Yamamoto. “Overall, it was a positive season during which we made solid progress.

“Over the course of the year, we improved our PU in terms of performance and reliability, thanks to the huge efforts of our engineers and mechanics. We must also acknowledge the important contribution made by engineers working in other areas linked to racing and other Honda products.

“Everyone at Scuderia 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.

“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. 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. As we prepare for our second year with Toro Rosso and our first with Red Bull Racing, our aim is to continue to make progress and move up the order.”

The calls from Red Bull so far has been positive – also in terms of how the power unit is coming along for 2019. The team believes that Honda will be ahead of Renault and take a step towards catching Mercedes and Ferrari.