Honda motorsport chief Masahi Yamamoto says the Japanese manufacturer expects and relishes the pressure to produce a power unit able to fight for Formula 1 wins and world titles as part of its new Red Bull partnership.

After a productive maiden year working with Toro Rosso, following three disastrous seasons partnering McLaren, Honda expands its F1 presence by supplying Red Bull from 2019.

The Milton Keynes-based squad sees the new partnership as its best option to return to winning F1 world titles which Honda boss Yamamoto wants to use as positive pressure to improve its own efforts.

“All the decision-making and execution of Red Bull is always decided under the thought of ‘How we can win the race and championship?’,” Yamamoto said. “It is always their first priority anytime and everyone in the team is working together towards such a clear target.

“This impression has not changed from the time of negotiation until now. It is a pure racing team and we are excited to work with such an outfit.

“In terms of the pressure, we already knew from the beginning of the conversation that they are obviously a big team and all the fans and media has high expectations for them, so to be honest there’s not much change there either. We were ready for it.

“You could describe it that half of our feeling is one of big pressure but the other half is of positive expectation.”

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Yamamoto duly wants Honda to grab its opportunity with Red Bull, and find redemption after its doomed McLaren partnership, but has conceded success is unlikely to be instant given the performance gap it suffered to its F1 rivals since returning to the sport in 2015.

“To be a partner with such a big team like Red Bull, it is a big pressure for Honda but also it is for sure a very big chance for us,” he said. “We believe we can have a good relationship together where we can have open communication with mutual respect, just like we have built with Toro Rosso.

“We can’t be sure if we can immediately compete at the level to fight for the top until we actually see our cars running on track, but I strongly think this is a partnership which we can make steps forward together.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has echoed Yamamoto’s sentiments and predicts a “two-to-three-year project” before the new partnership can compete for world titles.

“Inevitably when you’ve got such a big change - it’s the first time that we’ve changed power supplier in 12 years - there’s going to be a getting to know you process,” Horner said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day, so whilst we’re expecting to make progress throughout the year the target is very much looking at this as a two- to three-year project.

“In terms of the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes, we know where we’ve been the last couple of years. There are circuits that have suited us, there are circuits that haven’t, and our target is to be consistent across all types of venue.”



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