Honda's next step is to win in F1 – Masashi Yamamoto

Honda chief Masashi Yamamoto says the manufacturer’s next step is to prove it can win in Formula 1, as it prepares to link up with Red Bull in 2019.

Honda returned to Formula 1 as McLaren’s partner in 2015 but reliability and performance issues compromised results, and the parties split at the end of 2017.

Honda joined forces with Toro Rosso and in only its second race secured a fourth-placed finish, its highest classification since its return to the championship.

Toro Rosso-Honda has yet to return to such heights but has established itself solidly in the midfield pack, with its Spec 2 update in Canada well-received by Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley.

The update, coinciding with a Renault upgrade package, partly influenced Red Bull’s decision to finalise a deal with Honda for 2019, with management having also visited the manufacturer’s base at Sakura after last season’s Japanese Grand Prix.

“The first three years with McLaren after the return for Honda were very, very important,” said Yamamoto, speaking through a translator, on Honda’s current stint in the sport.

“It was three years of learning, learning back what we had lost from the gap that there was between the last time and returning to Formula 1. We’re very appreciative of those three years. 

“Then when we joined this year with Toro Rosso, we really from the beginning realised it was such a beautiful and very good collaboration between us, and we were ready for our next step. 

“Our next step is to win races and we decided that getting together with Red Bull is the right choice.”

Yamamoto added that Honda is “very very close” in performance terms to Renault at this stage, and must prove going forward that it can keep up in the development battle. 

“Let’s say that Mercedes and Ferrari are very close but Mercedes is maybe a little bit ahead,” he commented.

“Then Renault and Honda are very, very close, but let’s say in that category we would place ourselves in the fourth position.”

“Of course it’s our goal that we must show performance that is better than this year. Everyone is looking forward. For that matter we have to increase the kilowatt of our power unit and that’s our target in order to achieve better results.”