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Honda targets F1’s top three with Toro Rosso in 2018

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Honda has set its sights on breaking into Formula 1’s top three in 2018 after agreeing an engine partnership with Scuderia Toro Rosso from next season.

After three difficult years working together, McLaren and Honda announced on Friday they would be parting company at the end of the season by mutual consent.

Honda confirmed a new multi-year deal with Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s B-team, with the existing Renault supply used by the outfit shifting to McLaren.

McLaren currently sitting ninth in the constructors’ championship with just three points finishes to its name, but Honda believes it can vault up the order with Toro Rosso next year, ambitiously targeting a breach of the top three positions.

“It is my pleasure that we can start a new relationship with Toro Rosso, a team with a very youthful energy and a history of nuturing the stars of the future,” Honda chief officer of brand and communications Katushide Moriyama said.

“It is our goal to overcome this tough challenge and get back to fighting with the front-runners of the sport. Our spirit, Honda’s spirit, is going to come back.

“For next year, our goal is to fight for the top three at the front of the grid.”

Despite securing a works engine deal for next year, Toro Rosso F1 chief Franz Tost was more reserved about his team’s chances next year given its resources and facilities compared to the sport’s bigger players.

“Toro Rosso is not Ferrari or Mercedes. We have another infrastructure,” Tost said.

“But I can promise you that we, without our possibilities, will do the best possible job and then the rest we will see. It is not always and only the money which is decisive for the success.

“I hope at Toro Rosso we will work efficiently, because this is our slogan, and to get the most out of the package. The future will show.

“If necessary, then of course, maybe we will bring in more people, increase the infrastucture, whatever is necessary to have the success that Honda wishes.

“It is too early a sstage to talk about the details of the infrastructure. But I am convinced we are in a position to fight successfully within the midfield or the forward part of the midfield.”

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).