Max Verstappen has told those naysayers who questioned Red Bull’s decision to take on Honda as their engine partner, “look where we are now!”
After a six-season absence from the F1 grid, Honda returned to the sport in 2015 with McLaren but the partnership was unable to repeat the success of yesteryear.
The cracks were almost immediate visible, Fernando Alonso denouncing Honda for a “GP2 engine, GP2!” at their home race in Japan.
After three years racing at the back of the grid, McLaren and Honda went their separate ways, Red Bull snatching up for the engine supplier for their AlphaTauri team before the senior outfit also made the swap a year later in 2019.
Verstappen claimed three race wins in Red Bull’s first year with Honda power, two the following season and a year later won 10 on his way to a first World title.
With the Red Bull-Honda the most dominant this season, the team winning 14 of 18 races, Verstappen has not only wrapped up the World title but Red Bull are on track to also secure the Constructors’ Championship.
Verstappen has applauded Honda, seven years from “GP2” criticism to powering him to a back-to-back Drivers’ titles.
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) October 12, 2022
“At the moment it does feel perfect,” he said of winning the World title at Honda’s home race, “because it’s not only because of just, you know, that we are driving with Honda, we’ve been really working together with them now for a few years.
“It’s also where we came from together.
“I think everyone, or most people, told us we were crazy when we started to work with them back in the day, is it going to work out because they had a tough time at that time.
“But you see, never give up and full dedication to make it work, and that’s what happened.
“Of course, already last year, we were very competitive, but even better this year.
“That’s why I’m really proud of the whole team and I’m also very proud of everyone within Honda for that mentality.
“It’s hard when you have a lot of criticism on you. And there’s a lot of pressure, because people are demanding a lot and you need to perform, and you need to show results.
“But I think they stayed calm and they knew what they had to do, eventually, and look where we are now.”
The next step for Red Bull and Honda is to secure the Constructors’ Championship, which would be their first double since 2013.
The Milton Keynes team is 165 points clear of Ferrari with 191 still in play.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Verstappen said of the team’s title. “That is the next target.
“I’m going to give it everything I have, of course, to make sure that we’re going to win that one as well.”