Honda put the talk of them leaving F1 to bed for now by confirming they would supply Red Bull and Toro Rosso for 2021, but Max Verstappen was “never worried” about the rumours.
Verstappen ended Honda’s 13-year run without a victory in F1 when he won the Austrian Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver has added two further wins to that tally in 2019 and team principal Christian Horner believes Red Bull’s upturn in form has been crucial in Honda’s decision to stay.
Honda have also collected two podium finishes through Toro Rosso this season – Daniil Kvyat finished P3 in Germany while Pierre Gasly scored the team’s best finish since 2008 with P2 in Brazil.
Both teams can now prepare for the major overhaul to the regulations which is on its way for 2021 with Honda by their side, but Verstappen says he was “never worried” by the talk anyway.
“I was never worried about it,” he told Autosport.com.
“It was just trying to get the best out of what I have at the moment.
“I knew 2020 was happening anyway, but I was never really worried about [beyond that].
“Of course victories and podiums helped this year, for them to have the confidence and motivation to go further.
“Because if you don’t do that you’re really struggling and at one point a manufacturer will say ‘What’s the point of being in Formula 1?’.
“But I think this year Honda have made really big steps. Of course they had a tough time in the beginning when they joined F1 but they have learned a lot.
“I think they also get really excited. But as they said it’s not only about victories, it’s also costs and stuff.
“So I’m of course very happy that they’re staying on board.”
Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko believes the next big decision for Honda will come post-2021 when the FIA look to restrict engine development.
“There are still further talks for a possible agreement for 2022 and 2023,” Marko said in an interview with Red Bull-owned Servus TV.
“Then it will depend on how far the regulations allow a cost reduction.
“But the FIA has begun to recognise [this] and intends to freeze the engines from 2021, which means that further development will practically stagnate and then the costs will be drastically reduced once again.
“This is probably also a very decisive point for Honda, if it could come to another agreement.”