Although James Key concedes no one knows until the season begins, he feels Toro Rosso could pull off a “surprise” this season with new engine partner Honda.
This season Toro Rosso are teaming up with Honda having taken over from McLaren as the Japanese manufacturer’s only F1 team.
The partnership is a brand new experience for Toro Rosso as, instead of being a customer, they are essentially operating as a works team.
“It’s been a totally different world for us, working with Honda and working as a works team,” Key, Toro Rosso’s technical director, 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.”
He added that both parties have been “very honest” with one another about their past issues which means they’ve been able to hold open discussions.
“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.
“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.”