There must surely be mixed emotions at Woking as we head into the new year. Though McLaren finished best of the rest, Zak and the gang must surely be wondering if they gave up on Honda just a little too soon.
Having allowed its sister team to be the guinea pig in 2018, this year Red Bull put Honda power units in the back of its cars, the Austrian outfit claiming third in the championship having given both Mercedes and Ferrari a few scares over the course of the season.
Though it scored one less win this year, and less points (2), team boss Christian Horner is delighted with the progress made and the relationship with his team’s new partner.
Needless to say, he couldn’t allow the occasion to pass without a dig at his team’s former partner, Renault.
“We saw an awful lot of spreadsheets over the years, from Viry,” he said, referring to Renault‘s engine division, according to Motorsport.com, “but never realised the potential of what was on those sheets… this is the first year where everything that was promised was absolutely delivered.
“It’s just a different environment,” he continued, “a different type of partnership.
“It’s a true partnership, and you can see what it means to Honda when they get a result, when they get a pole position and they get a victory, the emotion, the pride, the satisfaction throughout the whole business.
“It’s a very, very different relationship to the one we previously had with Renault during this V6 turbo-hybrid era. We’ve achieved three poles, we’ve won three races.
“We could have arguably won in Monaco,” he adds, “we should have won in Mexico. Austin we were quick. So we’ve had a really good race car at a lot of circuits this year.
“The progression from Honda, with each engine that they’ve introduced and together with our fuel partner, the whole thing is working in harmony. So rather than fighting, always feeling very much a customer, it’s been a true partnership. And they share the same goals and objectives as we do. You’re seeing the benefits of that.”
Though the Japanese manufacturer has extended the partnership to 2021, the fact that it is merely a one-year extension has resulted in concern within the paddock, though Horner doesn’t share that concern.
“It’s great to have that bit of breathing space, that the short term is taken care of,” he said. “Of course, now we wait to see what the rules are going to be from 2022 onwards regarding homologation, etc.
“But after the year that we’ve enjoyed with Honda, the progress that we’ve seen, it was the natural conclusion to extend the partnership.”