At the press conference before the Eifel Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing drivers mainly had to answer questions related to Honda’s decision to complete the program in Formula 1.
Q: First of all, I would like to hear your reaction to Honda’s decision to leave Formula 1 at the end of 2021 …
Max Verstappen: I want to say that this is sad news, but we must understand the reasons for such a decision, and we just have to continue to attack – the same is said by the Japanese minders. Of course, Honda will leave Formula 1, but while they are not going to slow down, and our cooperation continues.
We have an excellent relationship, it is a pleasure to work with them, so that until the end of the year we will continue to attack, and next year they will present a new engine, and that I am also looking forward to.
Q: Did Honda’s decision surprise you greatly?
Max Verstappen: There was a premonition that it was maturing. Of course, I found out about it even before the official announcement, but treated it with understanding.
Alexander Elbon: I can confirm what Max said. Honda motorists are dedicated people, and, of course, it’s a pity that this company decided to leave Formula 1, but we still have almost a year and a half ahead! I know them well, they don’t give up without a fight, so nothing has changed for us so far.
It is a pity, of course, but the work continues, and it is better not to think about this sad news.
Q: Max, as you just said, you had a premonition that Honda was going to curtail the program in Formula 1. Did you know about this decision after you signed a long-term contract with the team?
Max Verstappen: Of course, this decision became known after I signed the contract, but Honda never promised to stay in F1 for a long time, so all this was expected. But the same applies to teams: you sign a long-term contract with someone, but no one can say what will happen in five years.
Again, there was a feeling that such a decision was being prepared. I believe that the situation all over the world is developing in such a way that it does not facilitate such projects. Especially since the beginning of this year, things have been very difficult.
Q: Could the upcoming departure of Honda somehow affect your future plans for cooperation with Red Bull?
Max Verstappen: I am fully focused on my tasks this season and also next. I think this is the most important thing. And there is no point in thinking about what will happen next.
Alexander Elbon: I agree with Max: there is still a year and a half ahead. Honda is preparing an upgraded version of the engine for next year, and for now we are only focusing on the top priorities.
Q: Earlier, you said that you believe in the ability of Red Bull to challenge Mercedes in the fight for the title. Did Honda’s decision and the need to find a new engine supplier somehow shake that confidence?
Max Verstappen: Not yet. We will continue to use Honda engines for the next year and a half. And after that, the new technical regulations will come into force, so you will have to solve new problems with many unknowns. There is no point in thinking about it yet.
I am only focused on what needs to be done now, i.e. to achieve the highest possible speeds from our car, and we still have engines, but after 2021 we’ll see …
Q: Are you ready to race in the future in cars with French engines?
Max Verstappen: In any case, I have no influence on engine decisions. I am open to any options. But I hope I don’t have to change to a pedal driven car!
Q: You do not envy rivals, for example, Lewis Hamilton or Charles Leclair, because they never had any worries about what engines will be on their cars?
Max Verstappen: No. I don’t envy at all.
Question One of the advantages of working with Honda was that the Japanese mechanics were ready to take into account all the requirements of Red Bull, and the car was created specifically for these engines – which is why the termination of cooperation with Honda is such a serious blow. How difficult will it be to find a replacement for Japanese power plants?
Max Verstappen: We do not yet know how everything will turn out, but I try not to think about the negative consequences. It will be visible there. Cooperation with various engine manufacturers has taught us a lot, and it is not yet clear how we will proceed. And I don’t know if we are going to develop our own power plant.
Alexander Elbon: I agree with Max. If you remember the history of Red Bull, our team has always been able to get out of difficult situations and have excellent cooperation with various engine manufacturers. I do not see any particular problems, even if we are left without this power plant, created taking into account our requirements.
Q: Finally, how will the cold weather this weekend affect your approach to piloting and tuning the car?
Alexander Elbon: For us, little changes. Of course, it is very cold in Germany in October, but I don’t see a significant difference with a “normal” weekend. Except that you can expect more intensive rubber granulation. But in terms of piloting, everything will be about as usual.
Max Verstappen: We will find out all this in the course of training on Friday. I don’t know yet and try to think less about it, because all tracks are different. First you need to go to the track, and then after a few laps it will become clear what awaits us.