MARINA BAY, Singapore -- Honda is aiming to make Toro Rosso a top-three team next season after signing a multi-year deal to supply engines to the junior Red Bull outfit from the start of 2018.
After three unsuccessful years back in Formula One, Honda will break its partnership with McLaren at the end of this season -- potentially without a podium to show for its efforts. There were rumours that Honda might leave the sport after splitting with McLaren, but speaking after the Toro Rosso announcement, Honda's brand and communication director Katsuhide Moriyama said his company sees the new deal as another chance to get to the front of the grid.
"For Honda, Formula One started with a dream by our founder, Mr Soichiro Honda, and we have already had the history of more than 50 years with F1," Moriyama said. "For our company F1 is a very important culture as well as being in the DNA of our company. It is true that we have gone through a very tough situation and nobody is satisfied with the current results especially the board.
"It is true we have gone through many discussions due to the dissatisfaction of the [Honda] president and we have discussed it and how to improve the situation. Quitting F1 was never an option for us.
"It is our goal to overcome this tough challenge and get back to fighting with the frontrunners of the sport. Our spirit is going to come back and next year our goal is to fight for the top three at the top of the grid."
Honda's general manager for motorsport, Masashi Yamamoto, believes the Toro Rosso team will be a better fit for his company.
"Although we do not have much time until the start of the next season, I feel that we are going to have a very good season and a good relationship between Honda and Toro Rosso. I believe that Toro Rosso is a pure racing team and the spirit of Toro Rosso is very similar to the spirit of Honda, therefore the short time that we have I believe we can work smoothly and successfully for the next year.
Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost played down the chances of fighting F1's biggest teams but is confident it can be a strong midfield player.
"Toro Rosso is not Ferrari and Mercedes, we don't have the infrastructure," he said. "But I can promise you that we, within our possibilities, will do the best possible job and the rest we will see. It is not always the money that is decisive for success and I hope Toro Rosso will work efficiently because this is our slogan, to get the most out of the package. The rest we will see and the future will show.
"If necessary then of course we can bring in more people and increase the infrastructure, whatever is necessary to get the success that Honda wishes. But this is too early a stage to talk about these details of the infrastructure. But I believe we are in a position to fight competitively within the midfield or the front part of the midfield, but the rest the future will show."