Scoring a podium on their first race with Red Bull, Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe admits that has taken some of the pressure off the engine supplier.
The Dutchman’s podium was Honda’s first since 2008, when Rubens Barrichello finished third at the British GP for the works Honda team.
Tanabe told Autosport: “I think yes, [we are] a little bit more relaxed from the pressure.
“And it is also another motivation for the development. It’s a good result.”
But while Verstappen was third on the day, the Dutchman was over 20 seconds behind race winner Valtteri Bottas.
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) March 17, 2019
Tanabe acknowledges that there is still a lot more work for Honda to do.
“We got some data from the Barcelona tests and we have something from here,” he added.
“We see again a clear gap between the top teams. The podium doesn’t make any change [to targets or expectations].”
Daniil Kvyat added to Honda’s celebrations as he brought his Toro Rosso home in 10th place.
Tanabe, though, is cautious about what future races may bring.
“We need to think about the Ferrari performance after Barcelona [in pre-season testing], they were strong,” he said.
“This track, we were faster than the Ferrari. We don’t know when we go to Barcelona again if Ferrari is still strong.
“It’s a combination of car characteristics, the driver, and the track characteristics.
“It’s not easy to tell where our performance is now. We go to a different place, maybe we are in a different position.
“But generally, the result and the race pace, we are encouraged from that.”