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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.”

Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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