Max Verstappen admits it would be even more special to win Formula 1’s drivers’ championship at the Japanese Grand Prix as it’s Honda’s home race.
Red Bull and Honda still collaborate on the power unit despite the Japanese manufacturer officially pulling out of Formula 1 last year, and the cars will carry prominent Honda branding this weekend. As the race at Suzuka couldn’t take place last year due to COVID-19, this is the first race since 2019 and provides Verstappen with a chance of wrapping up his second title — a result he’d be guaranteed if he wins with the fastest lap.
“It would make it a little bit extra special, because of our relationship with Honda,” Verstappen said. “It was a shame that we couldn’t be here last year, in the title fight. So that’s why we are really looking forward to being back here. We’ll see what happens. We need a perfect weekend, that’s for sure.
“It would be very nice if it happens, but if it doesn’t happen here I will be even more in favor at the next weekend. It doesn’t really change anything, you just want to have a good weekend and maximize everything you can. Of course I need a perfect weekend to be able to clinch the title here. But to be honest, I’m not really thinking about it too much.”
With Honda’s partnership being strengthened this week, Verstappen says he’d like to see a full-time return given the success Red Bull has enjoyed in recent years.
“It’s great to see the full name back on the car. HRC was already on the car, so Honda never really left. Of course it makes it extra special that they are back on the car, just before their home grand prix. We’ve been working really well together — it’s been really enjoyable.
“In terms of the working relationship compared to last year, not a lot has changed anyway. Just very happy that the name is back, and more prominent. About the future, it’s too early to talk about that right now. I think in general the Honda name for F1 is great and it would be very nice to see them come back again.”
While trying to clinch the title, the Dutchman has seen Red Bull’s name at the center of allegations relating to budget cap breaches in recent weeks, but says he’s ignoring the speculation.
“To be honest, I’m not really busy with these kind of things. It’s up to the teams and with the FIA, and I just need to focus on the driving. There’s not much more to say on that. I guess we’ll find out on Monday.”