Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost is encouraged by the gains made by Formula 1 engine supplier Honda heading into 2019, adding the Japanese manufacturer has “delivered on all expectations”. 

The Faenza squad enters its second year of its engine tie-up with Honda this year, having finished ninth in the 2018 constructors’ championship in its first season together.

While Toro Rosso’s car development plateaued as the year went on, it was pleased by the progress made on the power unit side by Honda throughout 2018 and feels “much better” prepared heading into the new campaign. 

Speaking in his first media appearance of 2019 on the opening day of pre-season testing at Barcelona, Tost insisted Honda has made big steps forward and believes its new customer Red Bull will reap instant rewards. 

“I must say all expectations I put into them they have delivered,” Tost explained. 

“I’m quite sure that they will close the gap to the top teams and that Red Bull Racing will be able to win races with them and that we will also gain a lot of advantages out of this cooperation.

“If you look at the car, how the power unit is integrated, then it’s a big step forward. Also how the boxes are in the car designed. 

“I must say it was a big step from the engineering side because we had much more time. There was really good cooperation with Honda and also Red Bull Technology. 

“Therefore I think from this side, we are quite well organised.” 

Toro Rosso took a number of grid penalties in 2018 as a result of Honda’s aggressive engine development push and some reliability niggles, though Tost is not expecting a repeat this year. 

“In 2018 we knew from the very beginning onwards that it’s a development process which we have to go through, so this is what we did,” he said. 

“In the meantime I think Honda has reached a very high level on the reliability side as well as the performance side, and I don’t expect that we’ll have so many additional engine changes this year. 

“I think first of all we calculate three power units and the rest we will see.”

Toro Rosso fields an all-new driver line-up for the upcoming campaign, with the returning Daniil Kvyat partnering Formula 2 frontrunner Alexander Albon. 

“I’m quite optimistic because we had good winter months, we reshuffled the team a little bit, meaning from the team side that we made some progress,” Tost added. 

“We have I think a good car, because we were quite happy so far with the different steps we did. We have with Honda a very strong partner. 

“We have two new drivers with Daniil Kvyat who is back to us, and immediately felt well in the car, also last year in the last test in Abu Dhabi in the tyre test. 

“We all know that he is very fast, and I think that he can prove his performance during the year. And also Alex Albon, a young, highly-skilled driver, 22 years old. 

“He was very competitive last year in Formula 2, he won four races, and all this package together, I think will give us a possibility to fight in the front part of the midfield.”