Honda general manager Masashi Yamamoto says that the Japanese manufacturer made "solid progress" across the course of the 2018 season. Honda supplied its power units to Toro Rosso following an end to its turbulent three-year partnership with McLaren.
The year began on a high, with Pierre Gasly driving to fourth place at the Bahrain Grand Prix, taking Honda's best result since it returned to Formula 1 in 2015. Toro Rosso managed to secure a number of other top ten finishes across the year, ending the season in ninth in the constructor's championship.
"2018 was the year when we embarked on our new partnership with Scuderia Toro Rosso. Overall, it was a positive season during which we made solid progress," said Yamamoto in Honda's end of season message.
"Everyone at Scuderia Toro Rosso and both its drivers played a big part in our development, not just on the technical front, but also thanks to their open-minded and positive attitude and cheerful disposition. This was a great boost for all Honda members.
"We established a close and honest relationship, built on mutual respect and that produced some strong performances, such as those in Bahrain, Hungary and our qualifying in Suzuka. For this, our sincere thanks go to the entire team.
But Yamamoto still recognises that there is still lots of work to be done: "However, it was clear that our PU is still not at the same level as the very best in terms of performance and there is also room for improvement when it comes to reliability."
Honda will supply a second team for the first time in the hybrid era next year, as it secured a deal with Red Bull for the 2019 season. With the partnership being tipped for title contention, Yamamoto says that team members are working profusely to make sure things are set for pre-season testing.
"Next season, we will supply two teams for the first time since we returned to F1 in 2015. We must do better and, with that in mind, everyone involved in the project is working relentlessly to be in good shape for pre-season testing in February. As we prepare for our second year with Toro Rosso and our first with Red Bull Racing, our aim is to continue to make progress and move up the order.
"Last but not least, I’d like to thank all our fans, who have always been so supportive. That provides us with further motivation to do well in the hope of giving them something to smile about next year. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing