Cape Town - Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko thinks Toro Rosso and Honda could gel together quicker than expected and spring a surprise in 2018.
There is a general sense of trepidation as Toro Rosso and Honda embark on a new journey given the latter's ill-fated three-year spell with McLaren which was riddled with unreliability and performance issues.
And, while the Japanese manufacturer quietly improved in the second half of the 2017 season, Marko believes it could be great timing for the Red Bull junior team to start this new partnership. "We are very happy with the Toro Rosso and Honda co-operation," Marko told Formula One's official website. "Toro Rosso will put all its efforts into making a competitive chassis."We do believe in Honda otherwise we wouldn't have made that deal. I am very impressed with the facilities that they have and their determination to win.
"It is just a matter of bringing everything together and we believe that this moment will arrive sooner than everybody is expecting. We will observe very closely - beyond 2018 everything is open."
Attention turning back to the senior team, Marko has said that Red Bull are looking to start the season strongly straight from the off and have made changes in order to break their usual spell of late-season competitiveness.
"We have learned our lesson from this year: we will not show up at the Barcelona tests with a non-competitive chassis," he added.
"We have changed our schedule and how we approach the winter preparations.
"F1 is a competition and if they [Mercedes and Ferrari] are better then we have to work harder. "It should be better if we have a reliable power unit, and if we have more horsepower then we should come nearer to Mercedes. It will be an exciting season, that is for sure."