Honda’s technical director has admitted the company’s staff are disappointed not to be racing at Suzuka this weekend.
This year’s Japanese Grand Prix was set to be quite the event with the race returning to the calendar after a year away, the nation having a home driver to cheer on again in the form of Yuki Tsunoda and Honda bidding goodbye to the sport.
Indeed, Red Bull had planned to mark the occasion by running a special livery as a tribute to the manufacturer, but will now do so in Istanbul instead following the cancellation of the race in Suzuka due to the global pandemic.
Toyoharu Tanabe admits it is a big disappointment for everyone at the company and has promised online events for fans instead.
“On the original calendar, this weekend should have seen us racing in the Japanese Grand Prix and it’s a real shame we cannot do so because of concerns over the pandemic,” he said in Honda’s Turkish Grand Prix preview.
“Everyone at Honda was very much looking forward to racing competitively at our home track, with our Japanese driver Yuki in his F1 debut season, which is also our last one in the sport.
“We know the Japanese fans are also disappointed and so we have prepared various online events specifically for them, as well as something special at the Istanbul track.”
— Honda Racing F1 (@HondaRacingF1) October 6, 2021
The teams supplied by Honda did not fare too well last year in Turkey with the Red Bulls finishing in P6 and P7 and AlphaTauri failing to score any points.
Tanabe says the data from that race has been studied to ensure things are better this time around.
“We are keen to get a good result with all four drivers across both teams in Turkey, and we have been working hard and studying last year’s data to be as well prepared as possible,” he added.
Red Bull’s chances will be boosted by the fact Max Verstappen got his engine change and penalty out of the way last time out in Russia.
Given the Dutchman did not lose too much ground in the title fight either, Tanabe is pleased with the situation heading to the final rounds.
“At the last race, Max took his grid penalty and although he lost the championship lead, the gap to Hamilton is very small and now we can simply focus on getting the best possible result at each remaining race, starting this weekend in Turkey,” he said.