LE CASTELLET, France -- Honda chief Masahi Yamamoto says the company's new deal with Red Bull is the chance for it show what it is really capable of achieving in Formula One.
The two-year Red Bull-Honda partnership was confirmed ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix, confirming an end to the former's long tenure as a Renault engine customer at the end of 2018. Honda has been supplying Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso this year after its partnership with McLaren came to a premature end last year following three seasons of woeful performance and reliability.
Yamamoto says Honda believed the chance to partner with Red Bull was too good to turn down.
"When I first discussed with the board members, us, Honda, is here to improve the technology and win with the improvement that we do," he said. "By joining with Red Bull, it is our opportunity to show our potential and to grow."
When asked if Honda's aim was to win a championship over the next two seasons with Red Bull, he replied: "It's a very difficult question! Of course it's a difficult question and we want to do our best. We need to work in collaboration - with [Toyoharu] Tanabe [Honda's F1 technical director] as well, all of us - and that's our goal, but it's a high goal."
Honda's time with McLaren was a difficult one and it eventually descended into acrimony when the results failed to live up to lofty expectations ahead of its return to the F1 grid in 2015. Yamamoto is encouraged by how the new partnership has started.
"I want to show our respect to Red Bull, because from day one there is a very big mutual respect between us. So it's a very fair relationship, yes."
In terms of what it took to convince Red Bull to take on the new deal, Honda's Canadian Grand Prix upgrade appears to have been enough to complete a courting process which dates back to the Japanese Grand Prix last year.
"There are two aspects. Last year after the Suzuka grand prix, I invited Dr. Helmut [Marko, Red Bull motorsport boss], Christian [Horner, Red Bull F1 team boss], and the two drivers to visit HRD at Sakura, our facilities. And then in Canada grand prix, we have shown to Dr. Marko the development map of what we have achieved in our goal for the entire season. We also have given data as a report of all the GPS and all the data that we have of all the progress of the details, we have opened it up."