Red Bull's Helmut Marko tips Honda to surprise in 2018

Red Bull chief Helmut Marko believes Honda will start delivering a competitive power unit much sooner than the rest of the paddock expects.

After three years of supplying unreliable and uncompetitive engines to McLaren, Honda will start a new relationship with Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso next year.

The deal has been struck with the possibility of Red Bull switching to Honda power when its existing Renault contract expires at the end of 2018, and Marko is confident the Japanese manufacturer will start making progress next year.

"We are very happy with the Toro Rosso and Honda cooperation," he 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!"

After a slow start to the 2017 season, Marko said Red Bull goes into the 2018 season as a stronger team.

"We have learned our lesson from this year: we will not show up at the Barcelona tests with a non-competitive chassis! 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."