Imola win ‘great reward’, but Honda still cautious

Henry Valantine
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda CEO

Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda CEO

Honda chief executive Toyoharu Tanabe has praised the success of Red Bull at the weekend after Max Verstappen’s victory at Imola, but urged caution as the season is still young.

Verstappen jumped Sir Lewis Hamilton at the start and led throughout at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, barely putting a foot wrong in tough driving conditions. However, the Dutchman was quick to deny that his win was a dominant one.

Elsewhere, Pierre Gasly recovered from making the wrong tyre choice at the start to storm back to a P7 finish, but Sergio Perez and Yuki Tsunoda both fared rather worse at Imola at the weekend – with individual mistakes leading to both drivers finishing outside the points.

As such, Helmut Marko openly criticised both of them for their showings, with Tsunoda branded ‘cocky’ by the Red Bull advisor, and blaming Perez for his collision with Esteban Ocon in FP1 while team communications were down.

The Honda power unit looks extremely competitive this year, and the CEO was complimentary about how the teams handled the ever-changing conditions, particularly as the rain began in the final hour before the race got underway.

“A great performance by Red Bull Racing, Honda and Max Verstappen has resulted in our first win of the season,” Tanabe said, via

“The conditions were particularly tricky due to the rain that came before the start. There were many incidents and even a red flag. However, the team handled it well.

“This result is a great reward for our race team and also for our staff in Sakura and Milton Keynes, and of course for everyone at Red Bull Racing.”

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“Pierre Gasly lost positions on his full wets but he fought his way back up to seventh.

“Both Sergio Perez and Yuki Tsunoda went very well but a spin for both put them outside the points.

“It is good to see that we have been competitive in these first two races but there is still a long way to go. We need to keep pushing and tackle the challenges as they arise.”

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