Max Verstappen says Honda has been “incredible” for Red Bull after securing the Japanese manufacturer’s first victory since 2006 at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Honda returned to Formula 1 in 2015 in partnership with McLaren but struggled and had not scored a podium until Verstappen’s third place in Australia this year. Despite Verstappen dropping to seventh at the start of the race at the Red Bull Ring, he climbed back through the field to take victory from Charles Leclerc with three laps remaining — a move that was investigated but resulted in no further action — and Verstappen says his sixth win of his career is a special one.
“(This win is) different again,” Verstappen said. “The start I had anti-stall — we set the clutch too aggressive. But yeah, from then onwards, my first stint was a little bit limited with a flat-spot I had after Lap 1, but still we stayed out quite long. Once we came out again, we had great pace, we were looking after the tires a bit, just settling in. One by one we were overtaking the cars ahead. The car really came alive.
“Once I got past Valtteri (Bottas), I knew that with the pace that we had I could definitely have a go at it. But you never know, you just keep pushing. We did it with a few laps to go, so extremely happy, but also to the team, I think all weekend we’ve been working really well.
“The updates we brought, they worked well. A big thank you to Red Bull Racing themselves, all the boys there, but also to Honda, because it’s not been easy for them in the past, but they’ve been incredible, so I’m really happy.”
Verstappen’s win was his second in succession at the Red Bull Ring and came in front of a huge Dutch contingent of fans, something he admits adds to the satisfaction of his victory.
“I was a little bit too busy to hear it driving but I could see them going up and cheering me on. I was concentrating on the track but you can’t miss them. Then of course on the in lap you could see everybody going wild. I don’t know, it gives me a lot of positive energy to go into a Sunday like this. Of course at the start I was disappointed but we never gave up and of course to come back like this is amazing.”