Honda says Red Bull will not receive works-team preference over Toro Rosso next year but admits it feels "huge pressure and responsibility" supplying engines to one of the sports top teams.
On Tuesday Red Bull announced a new engine deal with Honda that will see the Japanese manufacturer power its cars for 2019 and 2020. Honda has supplied Red Bull's sister team Toro Rosso this year and will continue to do so until 2020 under the terms of a deal struck last year.
But despite a clear hierarchy between the two teams under the Red Bull umbrella, Honda insists they will receive equal treatment from an engine supply perspective.
"We'll supply the same specification PU to both Red Bull and Toro Rosso," Honda motorsport general manager Masashi Yamamoto said. "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. 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."
Honda returned to F1 in 2015 with McLaren but struggled with both performance and reliability under F1's new turbo hybrid regulations. After three seasons of underperforming, McLaren and Honda split, which brought about the Toro Rosso deal and now the Red Bull contract.
Yamamoto said the Japanese manufacturer feels a great deal of pressure powering a team as successful as Red Bull and is targeting a seamless start to their relationship.
"[Red Bull] is one of the top teams. It 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 and 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.
"However, it is Honda's nature to always aspire to a very high target, and I think that's what makes Honda Honda. 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."
Because Red Bull and Toro Rosso will have the same engine supplier next year there will also be opportunities to share components and technology between the two teams within the regulations. Yamamoto is hoping that will make the situation more straightforward when it comes to providing equal treatment.
"There won't be a change in the current relationship between Honda and Toro Rosso. But we expect mutual transaction between the teams and Honda within the regulations, so that we need to make sure we maximise that advantage in order to get good synergy together.
"It was a great result finishing fourth in the second round, but there were some ups and downs after that. It is a very interesting season for fans, as well as those of us who work in the sport, because it seems that the result of the midfield runners varies depending on the car set-up and the characteristics of the tracks.
"We are now working on development to get further improvements to challenge for even better results for the rest of this season."