Honda: Verstappen title reward for belief in F1 engine programme

Honda Formula 1's technical director Toyoharu Tanabe says Max Verstappen's drivers' championship with Red Bull was a testament to the company's never-ending belief its engine programme would be successful.

Honda: Verstappen title reward for belief in F1 engine programme

Honda returned to the sport in 2015 as an engine manufacturer with McLaren but suffered a disastrous start with underperforming and unreliable engines, which had to be designed to fit McLaren tight packaging.

The partnership proved to be a major embarrassment for the proud Japanese company, with soundbites such as Fernando Alonso's "GP2 engine" comment doing little to improve relations.

A lack of results across three fruitless years led to McLaren and Honda ultimately deciding to part ways in the autumn of 2017.

AlphaTauri - then Toro Rosso - made a shock switch to Honda instead for the 2018 season, with Red Bull following suit the next year.

Honda gelled much better with the Red Bull family, up to the point Sakura's power units finally managed to compete with the leading Mercedes engines after the latest developments last winter.

That allowed Verstappen to challenge Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, and ultimately beat the Briton to the 2021 title.

While Red Bull and Honda had to cede the constructors' championship to Mercedes, Honda thinks Verstappen's maiden title is the reward for Honda believing in its own technology despite the early setbacks.

"Max winning the drivers' title is a great achievement for us, as we have been in the sport since 2015 and have been through a very difficult period of seven years, gradually improving," Tanabe said.

"Last year we were quite a way behind Mercedes, but I'm very happy that we've come this far this year, with both drivers and constructors fighting for the championship.

World Champion Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

World Champion Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Erik Junius

"Unfortunately, we didn't win the constructors' title, but I think the reason we've come this far is because we believed in our technology, and we were determined to do what we had to do to win.

"We worked relentlessly to develop our technology to win.

Read Also:

"We've had the support of our operations group, our travel group and our families who send their families abroad to help us achieve this.

"I was talking to the Sakura guys earlier, and I think there's a sense of achievement in Max winning the championship at the end of the day."

The 2021 title decider in Abu Dhabi will also be Honda's last race as an engine supplier, with Red Bull taking the engine programme in-house at its Milton Keynes campus after Honda decided to pull out.

When asked why Honda finally managed to overcome its early struggles and deliver a winning engine with Red Bull to mark its F1 farewell, Tanabe said the mutual understanding between the two companies was key in developing the power units.

"We worked with McLaren since 2015 and struggled with them.

"Then in 2018 we worked with Toro Rosso and we did it with an open mind, which led to a contract with Red Bull, which is demanding," Tanabe explained.

"I think we understood each other and the drivers and what we had to do to get the best result, and it all came together. I think it's a great moment for us.

"I think it's to work together as a company and as a group, I think it is the process that is important.

"We seriously come to the circuit every time to win every race, with support from Sakura and Milton Keynes."

Additional reporting by Kazuki Matsumoto

shares
comments

Related video

Santander returns to F1 in 2022 with Ferrari
Previous article

Santander returns to F1 in 2022 with Ferrari

Next article

How F1 teams tackled 2021's unique development war

How F1 teams tackled 2021's unique development war
Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss Plus

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss

OPINION: Fred Vasseur has spent only a few weeks as team principal for the Ferrari Formula 1 team, but is already intent on taking the Scuderia back to the very top. And despite it being arguably the most demanding job in motorsport, the Frenchman is relishing the challenge

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023 Plus

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

Changes to the regulations for season two of Formula 1's ground-effects era aim to smooth out last year’s troubles and shut down loopholes. But what areas have been targeted, and what impact will this have?

Formula 1
Jan 26, 2023
Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history? Plus

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history?

Who are the quickest drivers in Formula 1 history? LUKE SMITH asked a jury of experienced and international panel of experts and F1 insiders. Some of them have worked closely with F1’s fastest-ever drivers – so who better to vote on our all-time top 50? We’re talking all-out speed here rather than size of trophy cabinet, so the results may surprise you…

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2023
One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1 Plus

One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1

OPINION: During what is traditionally a very quiet time of year in the Formula 1 news cycle, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been generating headlines. He’s been commenting on massive topics in a championship that loves them, but also addressing necessary smaller changes too. Here we suggest a further refinement that would be a big boon to fans

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
How can McLaren keep hold of Norris? Plus

How can McLaren keep hold of Norris?

Lando Norris is no longer the young cheeky-chappy at McLaren; he’s now the established ace. And F1's big guns will come calling if the team can’t give him a competitive car. Here's what the team needs to do to retain its prize asset

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make? Plus

What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make?

While a quick pitstop can make all the difference to the outcome of a Formula 1 race, most team managers say consistency is more important than pure speed. MATT KEW analyses the fastest pitstops from last season to see which ones – if any – made a genuine impact

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2023
When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter Plus

When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter

Modern Formula 1 fans have grown accustomed to a lull in racing during winter in the northern hemisphere. But, as MAURICE HAMILTON explains, there was a time when teams headed south of the equator rather than bunkering down in the factory. And why not? There was fun to be had, money to be made and reputations to forge…

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2023
What Porsche social media frenzy says about F1’s manufacturer allure Plus

What Porsche social media frenzy says about F1’s manufacturer allure

Porsche whipped up a frenzy thanks to a cryptic social media post last week and, although it turned out to be a false alarm, it also highlighted why manufacturers remain such an important element in terms of the attraction that they bring to F1. It is little wonder that several other manufacturers are bidding for a slice of the action

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2023