Honda Technical Director, Toyoharu Tanabe has iterated that the Japanese power unit supplier “want to keep winning” with Red Bull, as their partnership gears up for their 50th Grand Prix together at this weekend’s Belgian GP.
Honda endured a difficult return to F1 for three seasons with McLaren from 2015-17 but have since gone on to record 12 wins in total with AlphaTauri (formerly Toro Rosso) and Red Bull after moving across to both teams in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
The last two races though have proven difficult for Honda after Red Bull found themselves caught up in collisions as Max Verstappen wrecked his second power unit in a huge crash at Silverstone, before Sergio Perez’s power unit was damage in a first corner melee at Hungarian GP in Budapest.
Tanabe therefore admitted that the two week summer shutdown had come at “a good time for our team members to be able to take a break and come back physically and mentally refreshed,” ready for an unpredictably “intense” second half of this season despite the Japanese GP being cancelled again..
Tanabe though has iterated that Honda remain focused on bowing out with further success, saying: “We want to keep winning, by focusing on one race at a time for the rest of the year with both our teams.”
Looking ahead to Spa Francorchamps this weekend, Tanabe iterated that he expects this race to be “one of the toughest races” from a power unit perspective, due to the first and third sector requiring long full-throttle sections along various straights plus mixture of heavy braking and sweeping corners.
“These 50 races with Honda will always be special…”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen led the tributes to Honda’s half-century of races as power unit supplier for Red Bull, as he noted that “These 50 races with Honda will always be special and well remembered when we look back.”
Verstappen went on to highlight his first win in a Honda powered Red Bull at 2019 Austrian Grand Prix as his “most emotional memory” of their journey together, yet has iterated that he wants to finish the season “on a high” and send Honda out with pride and potentially a championship winning car.
The 23 year-old went on to reflect on his time working with Honda, saying: “They have always been straight talking and delivered what we have expected. They spend a lot of time discussing everything with the Team and us as drivers which has been very important.”
Perez meanwhile despite being part of a Honda powered team for just eight months described the Japanese power unit suppliers as “so enthusiastic, you can see their passion for the sport and it’s nice to have people around you with that kind of energy.”