Honda logo, Mclaren, Bahrain International Circuit, 2017

Honda targets “top three” with Toro Rosso in 2018

2017 F1 season

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Honda aims to be among the top three teams when it joins forces with Toro Rosso next year, according to one of its top executives.

The engine manufacturer’s chief officer for brand and communication operations Katsuhide Moriyama stated the goal during today’s FIA press conference.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Singapore, 2017
Singapore Grand Prix practice in pictures
Moriyama said Honda’s board had decided against leaving F1 despite the collapse of its relationship with McLaren, who it returned to F1 with three years ago.

“For Honda, Formula One has started with the dream of our founder Mr Soichiro Honda,” said Moriyama . “We already have a 50-year history in Formula One and for our company obviously Formula One is a very important culture as well as the DNA of our company.”

“It is true that we have gone through a very tough situation now and nobody was satisfied with the current board, especially the board. It is true that we have gone through many discussions due to the dissatisfaction of the present and we discussed the project with the company and how to improve the situation.”

Moriyama said “quitting F1 was never an option” for Honda. “It is our goal to overcome this tough challenge and get back to fighting with the front-runners of the sport.”

“Our spirit, Honda’s spirit, is going to come back and for next year our goal is to fight for the top three at the front of the grid.”

McLaren finished ninth in the championship in its first year with the manufacturer. It rose to sixth last year but is ninth in the championship at present.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 84 comments on “Honda targets “top three” with Toro Rosso in 2018”

      1. “The power of dreams.”

    1. I now know what’s wrong with their engines! There must a major fuel leak somewhere — it explains both the lack of performance and crazy things the Honda people keep saying!

    2. Honda and toro rosso can be happy if they get inside 107%. Anything else is a dream.

      1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
        15th September 2017, 21:24

        It’s all about the power of dreams you know.

        1. I thought Dream Engines were only going to be introduced in 2021.

          1. Sky is the limit i guess

    3. I would laugh my ass off if STR wiuld actually be faster than McLaren next year. Unlikely, yes… but it would taste so sweet.

      1. Not that unlikeley.

        But third? So they expect to have the best engines on the grid and make a major chassis step?

        I would believe Honda to be third with RBR, but even that is a stretch.

        1. @jureo Of course it’s unlikely, but remember 2015? Both Sainz and Verstappen were often faster than both Red Bulls during that year. Twice a 4th place with Verstappen.

          1. I think we remember a different 2015 season @addvariety

            Going off the highest place finish for either RedBull or Toro Rosso :

            Australia – Ricciardo – P6 vs Sainz P8
            Malaysia – Verstappen – p7 Vs Kyvat – P9 —
            China – Ricciardo – P9 Vs Sainz – p13
            Bahrain – Ricciardo – P6 Vs 2 DNF’s
            Spain – Ricciardo – P7 Vs Verstappen P9
            Monaco – Kvyat P4 Vs Sainz P10
            Canada – Kvyat P9 Vs Sainz P12
            Austria – Verstappen P8 Vs Riccardo P10 —
            Great Britain – Kvyat P6 Vs 2 DNF’s
            Hungary – Kvyat P2 Vs Verstappen P4
            Belgium – Kvyat P4 Vs Verstappen P8
            Italy – Riccardo P8 Vs Sainz P11
            Singapore – Ricciardo P2 Vs Verstappen P8
            Japan – Verstappen P9 Vs Kvyat P13 —–
            Russia – Kvyat P5 Vs Verstappen P10
            USA – Verstappen P4 Vs Ricciardo P10 —-
            Mexico – Kvyat P4 Vs Verstappen P9
            Brazil – Kvyat P7 vs Verstappen P9
            Abu Dhabi – Riccardo P6 Vs Sainz P11

            So out of the full season, a Toro Rosso finished ahead of the quickest Redbull only 4 times.

            Redbull finished the season with 187 points Vs Toro Rosso’s 67

            There’s no way on earth the Toro Rosso was a better car than the Redbull in 2015.

            Based on that I’d say it’s much more than unlikely. To be top 3 they’d have to out engine develop Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault ( which is almost impossible) Then out build Mercedes, Ferrari, Redbull ( again almost impossible ) And possibly The Renault factory team who are starting to click more and more. Oh and Mclaren who clearly have quite a good car and should easily be top 10 with Renault.

            1. In the first half of 2015 the Toro Rosso car was often better than the Red Bull, but the engine let them down at crucial times: like China, where Verstappens engine blew 2 laps before the finish while he was running at P8, well ahead of the Red Bulls. Coincidentally, Ricciardos engine blew the next race – on the finishing line!
              Ricciardo did have a lot of bad luck too that year but had Kvyat to back him up. And both Toro Rosso drivers were rookies, at least supposedly less competitive than their colleagues at Red Bull.

              So while the 2015 Red Bull was indeed a better car than the Toro Rosso, the difference is not as great as the win statistics or the points suggest.
              If points are everything then Kvyat is better than Rcciardo (2015) who is better than Vettel (2014) and Verstappen (2016) who is better than Sainz (2015) who is better than Kvyat (2016)…

        2. @jureo, it’s already being reported that Honda have now revised that slightly – they have now said that their goal is to be the next best team after the top three, which means that they are targeting 4th place with Toro Rosso (I wonder if that is because their previous target might have implied they would beat the parent team, which might have been a bit awkward for internal relations).

    4. Reports have also come out that Sauber is celebrating their 9th place finish in the 2018 constructors.

    5. Honda have lost their minds…

      1. yes like my ex girl friend after we broke up, went crazy xD

        1. lol she’s hardly here to defend herself ;)

        2. is it Honda her last name?

    6. LOL! Honestly, a Toro Rosso being in the top three with any engine, even a Mercedes, is just unthinkable… to even consider a Toro Rosso-Honda being able to pull that off, is a one way ticket to the madhouse.

      Honda has lost its marbles.

    7. I’ve decided to enter the Tour de France this year. I’m targeting the top three.

      1. I think you can be number one, given that if you do enter this year’s Tour de France, you will be the only entrant. ;)

      2. You’ll do well on the downhill part Stephen…

      3. I’ve set a goal of winning the WDC at the age of 80.

    8. im keen to see what the maclaren is like with a reasonable engine, i suspect that their car is not that good and that all of their issues cannot be pinned to Honda and I admire anyone who sets their goal high.

      However, perhaps Honda would benefit from setting some achievable goals.

      To set a goal that requires them to beat either Red Bull, Ferarri or Mercedes over the course of next season is to invite disappointment.

      They are so weak on every area that I would recommend that they focus on some smaller, more in reach objectives such as completing the season with the allowed number of engines with no penalties for one. Another would be to get into the top ten in qualifying every weekend and lastly to come top of the mid field.

      When they have achieved those goals then they can be in a position to push forwards to towards the WCC.

      1. Yes, I agree. Aiming for the top 3 is a very high bar to jump over. They should be aiming to fix their most obvious problems, such as poor reliability, poor hybrid power on long straights, and poor engine power. These are problems that have dogged Honda since they returned to F1. They cannot hope to get close to Mercedes and Ferrari if they can’t sort those problems out.

        1. They are aiming for the moon, and if they miss it, they will end up with stars, so either way win-win :)

    9. So yes, I’m the only one here believing this is more then possible. But facts don’t matter here so, keep that prediction competition running for next year Keith, it’s going to be a blast.

      1. @xiasitlo ok, so put it another way. If toro Rosso had a Mercedes engine now would they be in the top 3 ? Absolutely not. Top 10 yes, but top 6 ? No chance.

        So now all Honda need to do is build a better engine than Mercedes who’ve been tweaking an almost perfect design for over 4 years and who’ll no doubt also improve for next year. Ferrari who have improved massively this year too. Oh and redbull who have consistently outbuit toro Rosso on the chassis. Theres not a chance Honda can be in the top 3 teams next year. The stage they are at now is probably equal to Mercedes pre season testing.. In 2014. It’s honestly crazy to come out and say top 3 next year ! It just sets themselves up for failure. I can understand why McLaren got fed up of their pie in the sky ideas.

        1. I know, but I just heard some things, had good sources, look up my replies from the last week said, some key elements already there. I’m done on this topic.

          PS: Get an account, you sound reasonable. Makes replying much more motivational for people like me.

          1. Thing is, it doesn’t matter what people *say* will happen next year, regardless of how well connected they might be.

            What matters is what happens on the track.

            What’s been happening on the track the past 3 years makes this prediction exceptionally unlikely.

      2. Nope. I’ve already said it in a previous thread: I wouldn’t be surprised at all. All the issues they’ve suffered from so far appear to be behind them and it should, in theory, be plain sailing from here on in. Then again, neither would I be surprised if they find some entirely new way to screw things up, since they seem to be very good at that.

        And all that said, McLaren must know more about it than we do. However, ending the deal seems to be more about keeping Alonso happy than anything else… which must make this rather depressing reading for them.

        1. @xiasitlo don’t know @xiasitlo ‘s info, but “should in theory be plain sailling” was also said last year. 2016 was good for Honda, yet they made a GIANT step backwards this year.

          The japanese work hard but you don’t overcome years of under-development (and more to come) that easily. Why more to come? because Honda only has 1 team with them, against 3 teams from each of the other manufacturers. Just winter testing is already a step backwards. Honda needed a second team, the Sauber deal would’ve been great for them and McLaren. 4 cars giving full information to the engineers is a good number. But just 2? against 6 from the opposition…??

          McLaren made a desperate move anyway, and they might regret it, but their short/mid-term sucess is just as important as their long-term ambitions. You need to be ahead of the game, not play catch-up until things come good.

          1. @fer-no65
            While this is factual somewhat true, some points.
            One: Mid-term success is nowhere near important for the top 5 teams, this is a economical fact, that’s not an opinion. Two: I never said they would do great this year. I expected them where they were around the Spanish GP but the reliability also quite surprised me.

            As I explained last week, they have so much problems with McLaren management changing their request with the size-zero and token shenanigans every year the step this year was not completely their fault, this was more 40/60 in the blame game and F1 is still British so McLaren wins the public vote along with Alonso. Ron Dennis was ahead of the game. He just tried to run to fast but gambled on the wrong design-plans.

            1. @xiasitlo in a normal team, yeah, long term is definetly more important, but for McLaren, they just cannot afford not scoring points on a regular basis. They are winners, their whole brand is on the line. Ron didn’t get kicked out for no reason, the board needed answers… they need results faster than Honda can provide them (or rather, faster than Honda “might” provide them).

              That’s also an economical fact. Sure McLaren gets some extra money with the current Concorde Agreement deal, but being 9th in the WCC isn’t good for them. Prize money is very important, and good results (even just consistent points) put the team in a better position marketing wise too. Just look at Force India.

              I don’t know where you get those claims about McLaren management changing their requests about size zero and tokens (those are not even there anymore, and they were probably decided by Honda rather McLaren), but I don’t agree that it’s the press and the whole “british business” that put the writing on the wall…

              McLaren is responsable of trying to be the only Honda engined car on the grid, believing (rightfully I think) that you can only win championships being a works team, but Honda is mainly responsable for being just woeful on a very big number of ocassions, starting with being out of the system for so long and not realizing what a huge challenge laid ahead.

            2. @xiasitlo This is a good discussion, and am sure more of the back story will come out as we head into 2018. However if Honda had not be so stubborn to use the F1 PU program as a development project for their engineers and recruited in engineers from other manufacturers (guess what Ferrari and Renault did in 2015..), then they may well have had the expertise to push-back on the failed size zero concept.

              As it was they had a lack of expertise, it’s a failure from McLaren in driving the concept through but a larger failure in leadership at Honda to not resource the project correctly from the get-go, this is evident in the leadership changes they made, only now are they turning to outside expertise to strengthen their program.

              There was a great article a few months back (either James Allen or Motorsport, I can’t recall) on this topic, including interviews with engineers from other manufacturers who said it baffled them why Honda were not recruiting engineers on 2-3 year contracts from the other PU manufacturers.

          2. Certainly at the start of 2016 it looked like things were beginning to turn around, but in the middle of last year, they realised that the “size zero” strategy was a dead-end, and rethought the design for 2017. So, no: there was always going to be a backward step this season. To be fair, it was bigger than expected – the MGU-H unreliability didn’t help – but it certainly wasn’t un-expected. (That’s why I’m surprised the split should come now, rather than giving it another year, and strongly suspect it has more to do with trying to keep Alonso than actual engineering considerations.)

            But I repeat, I’m only saying it wouldn’t surprise me to see Toro Rosso outperform McLaren next year, not that I’m sure it’ll happen. Because I’m absolutely not. As I said, I don’t underestimate Honda’s genius for pulling defeat from the jaws of victory. And yes, they really need a second team to put more miles on the engine. Much as I admire Ron Dennis, that was him, and him alone. Honda wanted to seek a customer team, remember, and he put his foot down. I kind of understand his thinking, but it was a huge mistake.

            1. Duncan Snowden, the problem is that Honda went backwards by far more than they themselves believed they would, and far more than they had promised McLaren they would too.

              Hasegawa has admitted that Honda were only just beginning to reach the peak power objectives they had set in January, when they were firing the engine up ahead of the pre-season tests, at the Spanish GP in May – so at least four months later than planned. They are still months behind schedule in terms of their development, particularly in terms of reliability and fuel consumption (areas where they’re still failing to hit their performance objectives): it’s one thing to accept the potential for a backwards step, but when you make a bigger backwards step than planned and advance more slowly than planned, I can see why things would come to a head between Honda and McLaren.

    10. Maybe they meant top 3 engine manufacturer…

      1. @zad2 Nope. He said the top three of the grid. That can only mean a Toro Rosso driver at front row in every races.

        1. I tend to think that what he said, wasn’t what he meant. I doubt he’d deliberately make such an outlandish claim (I suppose any things possible)

          To have a target of competing with the top 3 engine manufacturers seems a lot more likely and more like a corporate goal.

          I’m prepared to believe it was a “translation/misspeak” for now.

        2. Top 3 engine manufacturer on the grid?

    11. They must be entering GP2 (F2) :)

    12. They’ve got more chance of being in Formula 3 than the top 3.

    13. Honda taking top three with STR would be the best thing. Im looking forwards to the torpedo starting in 1-2 row.

    14. I swear Honda need to stop chatting so much BS!!! Why doesn’t the damn team just work extra hard with their bicycle engine and actually get results rather than saying every season that they are going to get “at least 1 podium” or “at least 1 win” like please. Toro Rosso should just take bloody Hot Wheels engines #ToroRossoHotWheels

    15. If Alonsos history is anything to go by I can totally see Honda going to TR and making them a top 3 team next year. Kyvat for WDC and Alonso will have another season scraping for the odd point.

      1. This Alonso bad luck thread is amazing, he lost three tittles in the last race which is unlucky but responding to your point and apart from leaving Mclaren in 2007 so can Hamilton clinch the tittle in 2008 in very lucky way you can’t say that Alonso is unlucky because he left Renault and they did won anything, same goes for Ferrari, he had bad choices but no unlucky that if he leave Mclaren in 2018 they’d win because it never happened + i don’t get people who say ‘ what if Honda put it together in 2018 or 2019’ because now they’re weak in every point and massively at the backfoot so why all this “victimization” from Mclaren accusers abou the splits? i’ll never understand.

        1. Ya what?

          You can’t say that Alonso is unlucky

          I didn’t

          All the other barely understandable nonsense in your post


          I’ll never understand

          You’re not the only one

          1. Man the formatting got messed up there .. seems appropriate though given how difficult to understand your post was that my response should be too haha

            1. Alonso’s best bet in F1 is Renault, is he is planning on staying around for a while? But problem with Renault decision is that everyone else know Alo’s super whiny and Renault cant afford to be in a scapegoat year as they did with RBs anymore!

              RBs are still bashing them but toned down and sugar candy covered way…

              So I think Alo is in his ticking period… Hope he doesnt damage F1 in general on the way out as he has a tendency to blame everyone but himself!

    16. whatever they’re smoking, i want to try that stuff

    17. Here we go again.
      Forgive the plagiarism if someone already said the.

    18. Best thing they can do is do all the talking on track. Everything else is just noise.

    19. Hi, Keith, why not make this a touch clickbaity: 98% of people won’t believe in what a Honda exec said. This must be a joke.

    20. They aim to be among the top 3 engine manufacturers running after Mercedes I guess…

    21. Ah crap, we are getting reverse grids after all

    22. Let’s have your cake and eat it Honda

    23. Top three? Top eight would be an achievement.

    24. Me thinks they are talking about the video game.

    25. Riiiight, because the McLaren has been holding Honda back all this time…

    26. In my experience, bold statements when they’re not backed up with actions tend to leave a sour taste in the mouths of people that took time to listen/read what they had to say. In our case, we are all fans wanting Honda to be competitive for the good of the sport, there are some that are Alonso/Vandoorne fans, or others that are McLaren fans that have significant interest in how Honda have been performing.

      While I think how skeptical we all are of this latest claim, how must it feel inside the Honda ranks, those poor sods working hard to fulfill a dream that seems to be out of touch with reality. In the coming years, I can foresee distention in the ranks, I believe that Honda will fall apart from the inside out and make a complete mockery of its own brand.

      I just hope that this is just a sign of how troubled Honda is as an engine provider in F1, and not an indicator of how other engine manufacturers will fare upon entering F1 in the future.

      1. I doubt Honda’s F1 program will fall apart, they are Japanese, they are too restrained for that. They will, (actually might is better) get it right eventually .(when that is goodness only knows) As for as torro rosso & ( more importantly now) Red Bull are concerned, so long as their power units are reliable towards the end of next season, they may have no choice but to take it.

      2. I don’t think distention means what you think it means.

    27. Righhhht. Sounds like Earth Dreams to me.

    28. Mercedes wouldn’t even be a top 3 team with Kyvat and Sainz as their drivers, let alone TR/Honda which won’t even have Sainz driving for them next year. Who are they planning to run in the other car anyway?

    29. great to see that even in the face of another pretty dreadful year the guys at Honda haven’t lost their sense of humour!

    30. To be fair he says fight for the top three. If “three” is Constructors then that means 7th..getting close to 6th is the target.

      1. I think beating Sauber might be an ambitious target for them.

    31. A continuation of the years of exhausting gases from Honda.

    32. ahhahahhhahahahhahahhhah:)

    33. It’d be an achievement if they don’t come last.

      Torro Rosso was targeting 4th this year with a latest Renault engine, look where they are now.

    34. I like their sense of humour !

    35. Aside from this pipe dream of being third, I found it interesting that both Honda executives spoke Japanese and used a translator in the press conference. Do they speak English? I’d certainly think so. The Austrian, German, French, Italian team et al nationals speak English in these sessions, why not the Japanese? It suggests a cultural barrier that may contribute to the difficulty of achieving success in F1. Yes, I know, 1988-1991.

      1. Completely agree. In fact, I guess this is this state of mind (the “all japanese” thing, we don’t need any help/advice (I know about Ilmor, but it seems to be over), we don’t want a base in Europe, etc…) that disgusted McLaren and convinced them that Honda was not in tune with F1.

    36. I would want to see faces of this guy, when he realizes that Honda signed contract with Toro Rosso and not main Red Bull team.

    37. If they achieve this goal it will be one of the biggest turn-arounds in the history of the sport: Minardi being a top team with a Honda engine that has been abysmal for three years.

    38. This whole Honda saga is starting to sound like an old Top Gear episode.

      Hammond: ”Right Mclaren Honda was a dominating force in the late 80’s early 90’s in F1 having won 16 of 17 races in one season having such greats as Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost driving for them. Now the producers have told us that Mclaren is starting a new partnership with Honda and they would like us to build their engines.”
      James May: ”With British engineering and Japanese precision we are certain that we can break the dominance of the Germans in one year. And make a mockery of the Italians passion while the French will retreat as they always do.”
      Clarkson: ”I mean. How hard can it be?”

      ”Ambitious but rubbish. And on that bombshell.”

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