Honda sets target for first year of Red Bull partnership

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Just 12 months ago Honda's Formula 1 project was in disarray as its relationship with McLaren imploded after a disappointing three season partnership..

But a year on, not only has Honda achieved success in the opening races of 2018 with new works team Toro Rosso, it has also secured multiple championship-winners Red Bull Racing as a customer team for 2019 and 2020.

Honda motorsports manager Masashi Yamamoto said that the first priority was to ensure Red Bull does as well in 2019 as it is currently doing this season.

“As a starting point, we do not want to see Red Bull Racing’s performance drop below its current level. But our target is to go further and do better than they are doing at the moment.

“[Red Bull] has won several championships and this year too it has already won some races. In addition, it is also obvious that they have a very good chassis.

"This means we’ll have better chances of winning races. This gives further motivation to all the members of Honda, but at the same time, it is a huge pressure and responsibility for us.

"It is Honda’s nature to always aspire to a very high target, and I think that’s what makes Honda Honda."

He confirmed that the new deal would not materially alter Toro Rosso's status as Honda's official works team: “We’ll supply the same specification PU to both Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

"From a manufacturer’s point of view, it doesn’t make sense to identify either team as either works or customer as current regulations oblige us to supply the same power unit to all our teams.

“In that sense, this contract puts the three parties into an equal position.

"Just as was the case with Toro Rosso, we felt a sincere respect from Red Bull throughout the conversation that led to this contract," he added.

"We appreciate them showing us such an attitude even after seeing our difficult time over the previous three years in F1.

“Though we are not going into further details of the contract than shown in the press release, I should say the condition is very fair for both parties.

"We feel that we will have to live up to their high expectations, but can see their respect for us, and we will put everything we have into the development for next season.”

Up to now, Red Bull had been keeping their options open about their engine supplier for next season.

Their existing contract with current suppliers Renault expires at the end of the year, but there was a possibility to renew and extend.

The team's senior management had been studying the progress of their junior team's alliance with Honda over the first races of the current season.

An upgrade to the power unit for the Canadian Grand Prix appeared to convince Red Bull that Honda was now ready to take a gamble on.

"Discussions proceeded very quickly," said Takahiro Hachigo, the president and representative director of Honda Motor Co., Ltd.. "Thanks to Red Bull’s open and respectful attitude towards Honda, leading to a deal that is fair and equitable for all parties."

Red Bull principal Christian Horner welcomed the new partnership with Honda.

“Honda’s alignment with both Red Bull Formula 1 teams provides enormous potential,” he said.

"Honda will have access to a wealth of data from both outfits, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing leading the way.

He added that the deal would mean that "opportunities for faster, more effective and more competitive development are doubled."

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