Honda’s Tanabe on Verstappen’s Austrian GP Win: “Today feels like a new beginning”

by Paul Hensby

Toyoharu Tanabe was jubilant after seeing Honda power take their first victory in Formula 1 since the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, with Max Verstappen securing the win for Red Bull Racing at the Red Bull Ring.

Verstappen started on the front row but dropped to seventh at the start after a sluggish getaway, but the Dutchman was the star of the field on Sunday, making good moves throughout the race and closing a substantial gap to race leader Charles Leclerc before passing the Scuderia Ferrari driver with just three laps to go with a move into turn three.

Honda’s F1 Technical Director was given the responsibility to stand on the podium and receive the Constructors’ trophy for the win on Sunday, and Tanabe was full of praise for the efforts of the staff working on the power unit both in the United Kingdom and in Japan.

He also heaped praise onto sister team, Scuderia Toro Rosso, who have assisted Honda massively since they made the switch to the Japanese engine manufacturer ahead of the 2018 season.

“Thanks to the efforts of all the Honda F1 staff in Japan and the UK, who worked tirelessly on our PU development, we finally made it, our first win in the hybrid era, the first since Hungary 2006,” said Tanabe.  “And a special word of thanks to all their families who supported them.

“Thanks of course to Max for a great drive and to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing for providing him with a fantastic car.

“We must not forget the great contribution made by Scuderia Toro Rosso, who helped us get back on the right path last year. Honda has not done this alone and so we want to acknowledge the contribution of our outside suppliers.”

Tanabe says the win marks the start of a new beginning for Honda within Formula 1 after the initial struggles in the partnership with the McLaren F1 Team to get to the front of the field that ultimately ended in divorce.

However, despite the first win for Honda in the turbo hybrid era finally coming, he says there is still work to do to close the pace deficits to the best power units in the sport.

“This win is also a way of saying thank you to all our fans, all over the world, for their continued support,” added Tanabe.  “We have been back in this sport since 2015, but today feels like a new beginning.

“While we can enjoy the celebrations for a short while, we must get back to work as soon as possible, because we still need to close our performance gap to the quickest teams.”

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