Toro Rosso's technical director James Key is a firm believer that his team can spring a few surprises this season. The Red Bull junior team will be powered by Honda, who have struggled with power output and reliability since returning to the sport in 2015 with McLaren.
The rough ride with McLaren concluded at the end of the 2017 season, and Toro Rosso will now take on a partnership with the Japanese manufacturer. Despite Honda's form over the last three years, Key is positive heading into the first year of business.
"It's been a totally different world for us, working with Honda and working as a works team," Key told RACER. "To have such a strong collaboration with your power unit supplier is new for Toro Rosso, but it's an extremely welcome situation to have.
"Honda are excellent to work with, I have to say. We've shared an extremely strong common goal and a very good working relationship to date, and there's no reason why that won't continue in exactly the same way."
Key also praised Honda's work ethic so far, and is pleased with how it and Toro Rosso have fluidly worked together in preparation for the 2018 season: "I think the really good thing with how we're working is that we're very transparent with each other, so if we do have a concern or an issue, then we always highlight it.
"Honda have been very honest about the problems they had last year, for example, and have said how they got around them. We've done the same, so it's been a really open discussion on how we can achieve our goals, but with all the data and all the resource to back it up as well."
Toro Rosso will run with Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley for the season, who enter their first full years in Formula 1. Being in an exclusive partnership with a major manufacturer, Key is confident that the team will produce some surprises throughout the 21-race season.
"So I think it's been an excellent experience. It's been hard work because it's a big responsibility, being the only team that's working with a company as big and important as Honda, but I think the way we've done it and the way we're working at the moment has been very positive.
"So I'd like to think we can spring a few surprises this year. There's obviously a lot of questions and you never know until you hit the track, but certainly on the Honda side they're working extremely hard and they're hoping to start off in a positive way."