Red Bull Racing’s podium in Australia was a huge boost for its partnership with Honda, as the Japanese power unit manufacturer’s first rostrum visit since the 2008 British Grand Prix…
… and its first of the hybrid era, which is a huge achievement in light of the 3-season nightmare Honda went through with McLaren on-track before a messy divorce at the end of 2017.
But, Red Bull, while a more political animal than McLaren, has learnt from past mistakes, not only in giving Honda enough space in the car, but also in not being critical in the media. Saving face for the Japanese…
… and focusing on what really matters, the collaboration.
SOUNDBITE (English) MAX VERSTAPPEN,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“I think also though the testing two weeks in Barcelona, you know, the cooperation between Red Bull [Racing] and Honda was going very smoothly and everybody knew exactly what they had to do and everybody was very focused on their job. So it was very interesting to see, but of course you know very happy that we could start in that way already.”
The result is, for now at least, a harmonious and so far successful pairing and one that Red Bull values, its shared works deal a privilege the squad knows is the only way back to title-winning-ways.
SOUNDBITE (English) CHRISTIAN HORNER,
TEAM PRINCIPAL, RED BULL RACING:
“There's huge motivation throughout the whole [Red Bull Racing] factory. This [new power unit] partnership with Honda has totally invigorated the whole of the team.”
But there’s still a long way to go in challenging for race wins, and what will be Honda’s first since Jenson Button at the Hungaroring in 2006…
… with Max Verstappen an impressive third in Australia, but 22.5 seconds off winner Valtteri Bottas. He finished just 1.6 behind Lewis Hamilton, who was compromised on pace with floor damage.
So the work continues but Red Bull is now fired-up, knowing it’s made the right choice on power unit. Expect things to accelerate from here.