Toro Rosso is not happy with its “rollercoaster” start to the 2018 Formula 1 season, according to team technical director James Key. 

The Faenza-based outfit enjoyed a strong start to its new partnership with Honda, securing a brilliant fourth place in Bahrain with Pierre Gasly. But the rest of Toro Rosso’s opening half to 2018 has been mixed, with the team scoring just 19 points so far. 

Neither Toro Rosso driver has appeared inside the top 10 since Gasly finished seventh at the Canadian Grand Prix, while a number of reliability issues have plagued both cars. 

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Honda’s impressive power unit progress has tempted sister outfit Red Bull to join forces with the Japanese engine manufacturer from next season, but Key admits Toro Rosso’s inconsistent year has been frustrating. 

“This season has been just a rollercoaster, really. I think we’re not happy at the moment, I have to say, with where we are,” Key said in an interview on Honda F1’s official website. 

“But there's lots of different reasons for that. I think when we've shown a ton of pace, we've used it well, particularly with Pierre [Gasly] in Monaco and Bahrain. But we haven’t quite had the consistency that we've wanted.

“I think, definitely, some of that is down to chassis. We've got upgrades coming to try and improve that consistency. But the frustration is that you kind of know you can do it, you’ve just got to get all the things right. And when they do fall into place, it works really well."

But Key believes the tight nature of F1’s midfield battle this year has been the biggest influencer of Toro Rosso’s mixed form. 

“This year, inconsistency is a swing of just 0.3s of lap time. That could be the difference of being in the top ten and being P14 or even out in Q1,” he explained. 

“So actually, it looks kind of very up and down, but when you look at the lap times, it's very, very compressed. So you’ve got to be on top of your game, and I don't think at some events, for various reasons, we've been a hundred per cent on top of our game. So that’s something we’ll try to turn around.”