F1 Red Bull Racing: Honda CEO saddened by end of partnership with Verstappen in 2026: “We will miss him”

F1 Red Bull Racing: Honda CEO saddened by end of partnership with Verstappen in 2026: “We will miss him”

Honda Racing CEO Koji Watanabe regrets the departure of the Japanese brand from Red Bull Racing from 2026. Max Verstappen managed to give the brand proper pride again in 2019 with that victory at the Red Bull Ring and Honda hopes to work with the Dutchman again . in the near future.

The Japanese motorcycle brand will change to Aston Martin in 2026. The current partnership with Red Bull Racing is excellent, to say the least. From 2021 onwards, various world titles will be won, partly thanks to the Japanese. However, that was far from certain when Honda entered the market in 2015. At that time, Honda made several rookie mistakes at McLaren and after the partnership was not acceptable, Red Bull hired an engine supplier. In 2018, only the sister team had Honda engines, a year later the Austrian team also switched. However, uncertain times were coming and Honda decided to pull the plug on the Formula 1 project at the end of 2021. In response, Red Bull took on several employees and established Red Bull Powertrains. Honda eventually decided to stay in Formula 1, but due to early exits, the Austrian brand already had a plan ‘B’ ready. It has confirmed that Honda will continue with Aston Martin and Red Bull will work with Ford from 2026.

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Verstappen drove with Renault engines at Red Bull Racing until 2018 and was not happy with it. The Japanese engine still had to prove itself in the top team, but the victory was taken immediately in the first year. In conversation with Motorsport.com Watanabe explains that Verstappen scored points because of his attitude. “We have a very good relationship with Max. The Honda staff love Max. We are proud to work with Max and we will miss him in the future. He is of course very important. He is currently the number one driver in Formula 1.”

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Future collaborations?

Especially when Verstappen won in 2019 Austrian Grand Prix won, Watanabe will not forget that easily. He remembers when Verstappen showed the Honda brand so well. “I was at the Red Bull Ring in Austria and I stood under the podium. That was a special day.” Finally, the paths part in 2026, but that does not mean that the desire will still be there to work with Verstappen again. “Yes, although I don’t think that day will come soon,” Watanabe has to admit honestly.