Verstappen felt Honda departure coming

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen has suggested there were signs within Red Bull that Honda was poised to leave Formula 1, stating he could “feel it coming”.

The Japanese marque last week announced that it will end its involvement in F1 at the conclusion of the 2021 season.

Currently it supplies Red Bull and AlphaTauri with engines, have rejoined the sport with McLaren in 2015.

Verstappen gave Honda its first win in the turbo-hybird era at the Austrian Grand Prix last year, with the power units having claimed six victories since.

The most recent of those came at the Italian Grand Prix when Pierre Gasly claimed an unlikely win for AlphaTauri.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Eifel Grand Prix, Verstappen revealed that he sensed Honda’s exit was coming.

“You could feel it coming,” he admitted.

“I guess the situation in the whole wide world is not helping, especially from the beginning of this year onwards, once we finally got started, it’s just not easy.”

The Dutchman signed a three-year contract extension with Red Bull in January, with inclinations of Honda’s departure only forming after that point.

“It came after I signed the deal but they never committed a lot longer so you could expect something like this. You’re never sure,” Verstappen explained.

“That’s the same for teams a well, you sign a deal with them but who knows what is happening in five years’ time. It is what it is.

“We just keep on pushing, that’s also what they said.

“Of course they are going to pull out but they’re not going to back off now,” he added.

“We just keep working together because we have a great relationship so it’s really enjoyable to work with the guys.”

Though power unit regulations remain stable for 2021 ahead of a broad overhaul for 2022, Honda is planning in introducing a new engine next season.

“I’m very much looking forward to that as well to just bring it to a good end and basically push until the last race,” Verstappen said.

“We are still driving with them for one-and-a-half years,” he added.

“After that we have got the new regulations of the cars coming in so there are so many unknowns.

“At the moment it doesn’t make sense to think about that.

“I’m just focused on what I have to do and that’s try and drive the car as fast as I can; with an engine in the back – I hope I don’t end up like Fred Flinstone that I have to pedal it myself.”

Honda’s exit leaves Mercedes, Renault, and Ferrari as the remaining power unit manufacturers in the sport.

Red Bull had an acrimonious split with Renault at the end of 2017, and used Ferrari power for a single season in 2006 prior to switching to the French marque.

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