Monday, 12 march 2018, 05:00 , by Matthew Scott
Brendon Hartley says Toro Rosso are targeting a point-scoring finish at the Australian Grand Prix after "exceeding expectations" in pre-season. A surprise show of reliability from Honda in Barcelona has lifted the Faenza squad, who had been expected to struggle in 2018.
Honda had been browbeaten for much of the past three years after returning to F1 to largely underwhelming results with McLaren.
McLaren have ditched Honda for Renault this year, but still suffered numerous breakdowns at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Meanwhile, Hartley and Pierre Gasly enjoyed largely uninterrupted running in Spain and the Kiwi says the team are now brimming with confidence.
"The initial brief was that Melbourne might be tough, but actually after these test days we've exceeded our own expectations and we're definitely in the fight for those points," said Hartley.
"We think we're somewhere in the fight. It's a really tough midfield battle, but it was a really positive start.
"The goal has to be points. It would be crazy not saying that going to Melbourne.
"Haas, Renault, McLaren are all looking very strong as well. But we are in there somewhere."
Honda and McLaren's relationship was reported to have quickly grown sour, but Hartley praised the Japanese manufacturer's work.
"When I went to the factory a month ago, everyone was really optimistic and positive about this new partnership with Honda," he said.
"I saw how hard everyone was working, so I had high expectations coming here and they've delivered. The partnership is off to a flying start."