Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2020

“You could feel it coming”: Honda’s exit not entirely unexpected says Verstappen

2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says Honda’s decision to leave Formula 1 at the end of next year is “a shame” but also “understandable from their side”.

The Red Bull driver signed a new long-term contract with the team in January, but Honda confirmed last week it will pull out of the sport at the end of 2021. However Verstappen played down the implications the team losing its engine supplier may have on his future.

“It came after I signed the deal but they never committed a lot longer so you could expect something like this,” said Verstappen. “you’re never sure.

“That’s the same for teams a well, you sign a deal with them but who knows what is happening in five years’ time. It is what it is.

“You could feel it coming. I guess the situation in the whole wide world is not helping. Especially from the beginning of this year onwards, once we finally got started, it’s just not easy.”

Verstappen believes Honda will continue to put maximum effort into their Formula 1 programme despite their coming withdrawal.

“We just keep on pushing, that’s also what they said. Of course they are going to pull out but they’re not going to back off now. We just keep working together because we have a great relationship so it’s really enjoyable to work with the guys.

“So for the rest of the year we just keep on going. And also for next year, introducing the new engine, I’m very much looking forward to that as well to just bring it to a good end and basically push until the last race.”

With new technical rules coming after Honda leave, Verstappen said he isn’t dwelling on the impact of their departure.

“We are still driving with them for one-and-a-half years,” he said. “And after that we have got the new regulations of the cars coming in so there are so many unknowns. At the moment it doesn’t make sense to think about that.

“I’m just focused on what I have to do and that’s try and drive the car as fast as I can. With an engine in the back – I hope I don’t end up like Fred Flinstone that I have to pedal it myself…”

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13 comments on ““You could feel it coming”: Honda’s exit not entirely unexpected says Verstappen”

  1. Ridiculing and cursing the engine over the radio during the races would not have helped them stay longer either no. I also had the immediate feeling that this cooperation was not going to last long anymore.

    1. @f1osaurus
      “Ridiculing and cursing the engine over the radio during the races would not have helped them stay longer either no”

      Enlighten us: when did he mention the engine?
      Radio transcript and such counts as evidence.

      1. Oconobody, Do you even watch F1 at all?

        How do you like the karma of it all? Red Bull set out to take away Mercedes’ trump card. According to Marko, banning the use of engine modes was going to help Verstappen get pole. Instead of properly designing their own car or hiring a driver that can actually help develop the car and team to a higher level, they decided to play dirty. Then when they finally get their wish (again!), it was Red Bull who seems to have suffered most from this ban. It’s just so glorious all.

        And thanks @rvg013 for the clips.

    2. @f1osaurus
      What an eye opener; here I am thinking Honda is in F1 to win races and bag podiums, but apparently all they’re after is a few feathers shoved up their behind and they rather pull the plug on a billion dollar investment after a few curse words (aimed at we know what) from the driver who actually delivered wins and podiums.
      (Kinda curious what shareholders make of such a decision.)

      1. @niki101 Yeah I guess you missed the point as to why car manufacturers do this. Spoiler alert … it’s to promote their brand.

        Having some poorly raised kid lambast them in front of an audience of millions is not what they are after.

        1. Trumposaurus strikes again.

  2. Ahahah Fred Flitstone, nice joke from Max :) I used to reference the Flintstones sometimes too. Actually he had some other great pranks as well. I guess he had to pick up something at this field while having Ricciardo as a teammate :)
    Max carried on performing well this season despite of the signs of Honda’s exit, that is very nice at his young age.
    It’s nice of Honda that they are trying to have a great season next year, but also reasonable, because their project is around it’s (local) peak (considering their highs from their previous and current season), while Renault started to show signs of finally manifesting some improvements, so they will be more or less potential challengers of each other, while Ferrari will have a hard time joining that battle in the close future. So it’s reasonable to participate and take on that challenge from Renault, can be done with a good return for a reasonably priced investment (at least considering the costs of the current era).

  3. I like the Flinstones-reference.

    1. But it’s incorrect: FF never pedaled his car.

  4. Quite contrasting comments from Max and to drivers of his sister team.

  5. Honda are staying in Indy racing. Would ambitious young engineers likely remain with the soon to be dead F1 programme or move to more promising areas?

    1. @gnosticbrian to do so, they would need to relocate to the United States – the IndyCar programme is run by Honda Performance Development, which is under the North American division of Honda. HPD has very little overlap with the rest of Honda’s motorsport activities and is largely a self-contained operation that focusses solely on North America.

      The engines that the Acura branded sportscars that compete in the DPi category of the IMSA SportsCar Championship are entirely designed and built in North America, with no technical support or manufacturing support from Honda’s main facilities in Japan.

      Similarly, if you look at the NSX GT3 car that HPD runs in that same series, the Japanese arm gave the North American arm a partially developed car and then told them “right, you’re on your own now”. There was no development support from Honda’s Japanese arm – HPD had to do most of the development work themselves (they had to redesign the aerodynamics, the front and rear suspension layout, the interior electronics, the fuel systems and so on by themselves) – and the racing team has no support or involvement with the Japanese arm of Honda, being entirely supported by HPD.

      Toyoharu Tanabe, who is now currently heading up Honda’s Formula 1 project, has also confirmed that there isn’t a lot of interaction between the North American division of Honda and the rest of the company.

      He’s confirmed in the past that, if HPD were to ask the Japanese arm for information on a piece of technology, then they would provide information to them, and similarly HPD would provide info to the Japanese arm if it was asked for too. However, whilst the Japanese arm of Honda might provide information to the North American arm, and vice versa, the Japanese arm of Honda doesn’t do any development work for the North American arm and the North American arm won’t develop components for the Japanese arm.

      If you are a young engineer who is working on Honda’s Formula 1 project, the likelihood is that you might be redeployed into another motorsport division run by the Japanese side of the company – for example, on their SuperGT project – but you won’t have any involvement with IndyCar or the DPi projects.

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