Brendon Hartley feels Toro Rosso could be a surprise package in 2018 following its tie-up with new Formula 1 engine partner Honda.

The Faenza-based cut ties with former engine supplier Renault at the end of last season in favour of switching to a works deal with Honda, following the Japanese manufacturer’s divorce from McLaren after a disastrous three-year spell.

Honda’s troubles with a lack of performance and reliability in the V6 hybrid era have been well documented, but after Toro Rosso compiled the most running of any other team during the opening pre-season test in Barcelona - completing a total of 324 laps without any issues - Hartley is full of confidence.

"I’m really optimistic and positive about this new relationship with Toro Rosso and Honda,” Hartley told Crash.net. “Everyone’s working really hard. I see that we’re going to improve during the season. I hope that we can be a bit of a surprise.

"I think a lot of people wrote us off with the new partnership with Honda. I really believe we can surprise a few people. I know myself the people in this team and how hard Honda are working as well. I’m really looking forward to the season.”

The two-time WEC champion says he has set himself targets of achieving his maiden points finish and potentially even a podium during his first full F1 campaign with Toro Rosso, having contested the final four races of 2017. 

“I know myself, my goals, of how I want to perform. But it’s hard to put a number on that. It’s a team sport, it’s not just individuals. There’s more than 400 people in Toro Rosso working towards that goal. 

“I’m the final piece of the puzzle inside the car, myself and Pierre, but it’s a big team effort. I have some personal goals and targets that I want to fulfil, and I think only I’ll know if I’ve achieved them.”

 

 

 

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