Honda technical director Toyoharu Tanabe says Max Verstappen’s victory at the Austrian Grand Prix came as a surprise to the Japanese manufacturer while he didn’t expect to be called to the podium which led to his late arrival to the ceremony.

With Honda claiming its first Formula 1 win since 2006, and the first of its new partnership with Red Bull, technical chief Tanabe conceded the win wasn’t a feat his team anticipated to arrive in Austria due to the strengths of its rivals Ferrari and Mercedes.

Tanabe also conceded power unit cooling was “on the edge” as all teams battled the hot conditions at the Red Bull Ring, meaning Verstappen’s charge through the field to victory came as a shock.

“Not like this, being so strong today,” Tanabe said after being asked if he expected the win in Austria. “From the previous races we could see a very strong Mercedes but sometimes we could compete with Ferrari. Today, differently, we showed the strongest performance, so I’m a bit surprised.

“We were on the edge on terms of cooling. Of course, the high temperatures forced us to save the power unit. We tried to extract as much power as we could today.”

As a mark of Red Bull’s new Honda partnership, the team asked Tanabe to go to the podium to accept the constructors’ trophy which led to confusion as the Honda boss was unsure what the protocol was.

“I was surprised when I was told to go there. I have no idea what I should do and that’s why I got to the podium later than other people,” he said. “Normally you need to stay before the national anthem – I thought I should be there for that but I was a bit late. But I joined after that.

“This was my first time, I was worried about what to do and no one told me.”

 

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