First win for 13 years “feels like a new beginning” for Honda

2019 Austrian Grand Prix

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Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe said the engine manufacturer’s first victory since returning to F1 four years ago felt “like a new beginning” for them.

The Japanese manufacturer endured a very difficult comeback to the sport with McLaren in 2015 as its V6 hybrid turbos initially proved under-powered and unreliable. Progress was so slow that McLaren split from them after three seasons.

Honda supplied power units to Toro Rosso last year and expanded to a two-team programme when Red Bull, encouraged by the progress seen at its junior team, switched from Renault to Honda power.

Max Verstappen victory in the Austrian Grand Prix yesterday was the first for the partnership in their ninth race together. It also ended Honda’s wait for the first victory for its engines since Jenson Button’s triumph at the Hungaroring for the Honda works team in 2006.

“Thanks to the efforts of all the Honda F1 staff in Japan and the UK, who worked tirelessly on our PU development, we finally made it,” said Tanabe. “Our first win in the hybrid era, the first since Hungary 2006. And a special word of thanks to all their families who supported them.

“Thanks of course to Max for a great drive and to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing for providing him with a fantastic car. We must not forget the great contribution made by Scuderia Toro Rosso, who helped us get back on the right path last year.

“Honda has not done this alone and so we want to acknowledge the contribution of our outside suppliers. This win is also a way of saying thank you to all our fans, all over the world, for their continued support.”

However Tanabe admitted Honda still has work to do to close the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes.

“We have been back in this sport since 2015, but today feels like a new beginning. While we can enjoy the celebrations for a short while, we must get back to work as soon as possible, because we still need to close our performance gap to the quickest teams.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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26 comments on “First win for 13 years “feels like a new beginning” for Honda”

  1. So essentially every engine manufacturer has won at least one race during the hybrid era. That did not look very likely just two years ago.

    1. @chrischrill – gotta credit RBR, they’ve used the two worst PUs of this era and used it for victory. No small surprise that Mercedes and Ferrari were shy about providing them an engine supply.

      1. Ha! Good point.

        Ricciardo won 7 races I think, Verstappen now has 6. I think Vettel won zero for RBR in the hybrid era, no? So 13 victories with the two worst engines in F1 Hybrid era…. chapeau.

        1. @jeffreyj – yep, Vettel was nil in 2014, and only in 2015 with Ferrari did he return to his winning ways.

          And wow, I didn’t quite realize Max had that many victories. Am I right in assuming that his streak of never winning from pole continues?

          1. @phylyp Yeah, VER has never gotten pole yet. Amazing really.

      2. Indeed, give a ferrari engine to red bull in 2018, and ouch!

  2. Kind of impressed with Honda on both speed and reliability for this race. I really thought that the scorching heat will make the engine pop, as it was one of the hottest races in ages and Verstappen was almost half the race in the hot exahust of another car.

    As a matter of fact, there were no DNFs in a race that saw no Safety Car periods. That is actually very good reliability for all the teams.

    1. @gechidan Good observation. I was expecting some Renaults to pop after their early season unreliability (and focus on pure performance), but even they managed it very well here. Can’t believe that Mercedes was the one team that suffered so much, engine-wise. Begs the question: is the packaging that more tight than the others, or is it an inherent issue with their engine architecture?

    2. I’ve seen some comments saying that giving Max full rate power for the last almost half a race will defenitely have consequences for the engine used, meaning there likely will be an extra engine needed later this year @gechichan, @br444m.

      That said, I am glad they did give it all, because surely that is what racing is about – they smelled a chance of victory, and Max delivered it!

      I think that the issues Mercedes had here (and suffered from in Mexico last year) is a choice they made to have realy tight and optimized packaging around the back especially. Since they still are winning the championsip by a league, it looks like the trade off is a positive for them.

    3. @gechichan
      Not only great reliability, but a good race even without any rain, safety car or DNFs to randomise things!

  3. Funny thing with this honda win was the winner lapped his teammate to the flag and other cars powered by Honda didnt fare well either.

    1. the winner lapped his teammate

      F1 drivers have been lapping F1.5 for ages ;)

      1. Yeah but Gasly isn’t in a F1.5 car. He is in the same car as the race winner and he got lapped…. ouch!

        1. Also it wasnt a wet race, where great drivers have been known to lap their teammates.

        2. that was tongue in cheek from @phylyp ;)

          1. @johnmilk – the only person who gets my silly sense of humour. We’re in a class of two!

          2. @phylyp Mercedes of sarcasm

          3. @johnmilk – so, hated by the rest? Sounds legit! :)

          4. @phylyp yup, that pretty much sums it up ahah

        3. @jeffreyj he wasn’t in the same car though. Max had a new front wing (and subsequent changes to optimise airflow) on his care which seemed to make a substantial difference in grip. Gasly didn’t have those.

          1. Even with those missing upgrades finishing a lap down to teammate is embarrassing to say the least. Lets forget about the upgrades, throughout the race Gasly was even unable to attack and overtake Norris in a Mclaren.

  4. GP2 Engine, GP2!

  5. I’m not convinced the Honda engine has ever been as ‘bad’ as made out. McLaren’s struggles after parting ways I think partially proved that they never did have the ‘best chassis’ as they claimed at the time.

    Kudos to Red Bull for taking a (calculated, I’m sure) gamble though – I suspect it’s going to pay dividends in more ways that one.

    1. I’d agree with all of this!

      Fairly sure they were given data to show how it wasn’t a rubbish engine (and in fact that car wasn’t great) but yes a calculate gamble

  6. Time to step up to a factory program then.

  7. It’s great to see, they have been persistent and very magnanimous when times were bad, all the hard work is now starting to pay off and it’s great to see.

    It can only be good for the sport in general too.

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