Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko is upbeat about the prospects of junior team Toro Rosso in 2018 from their driver line-up to the change to Honda engines.
The Faenza-based team ended last season on a negative note with just one point-scoring finish in the final six races and losing out on sixth in the Constructors' Championship to Renault at the final race in Abu Dhabi.
This was due mostly to the changing in their driver pairing from the start of the year, as Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly replaced Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat, with neither of the rookies managing a top 10 result.
Marko, however, looked past that claiming in an interview with the official Formula 1 website: “Toro Rosso ran into unbelievable reliability problems - unbelievable! Also in terms of the car development, it was not what it should have been. I think for the circumstances Gasly and Hartley did really well."
The return of the Kiwi to the Red Bull program after being dropped seven years prior was certainly one of the surprise stories of 2017 and also led to a busy stint of eight races in eight weekends as he combined Toro Rosso and WEC duties.
"Hiring Brendon was out of the norm - a different story - and we are happy with him," the Austrian added. "The good news is that he doesn't have to switch anymore between Porsche and F1, so I am sure for next season Toro Rosso has a very promising driver line-up."
Perhaps the most significant factor in determining their 2018 campaign will be the performance of Honda after agreeing to take on the Japanese manufacturer to enable McLaren to end their partnership after three tough years.
"We are very happy with the Toro Rosso and Honda cooperation," Marko claimed, however. "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."
The Red Bull advisor even hinted it could be the start of a greater alliance in the future with the senior team considering its engine future.
"We will observe very closely - beyond 2018 everything is open!" Marko concluded.
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