Honda tried with McLaren, and then tried again with Toro Rosso – but in their first race with Red Bull, Max Verstappen delivered the Japanese firm their first podium as an engine supplier since returning to sport in 2015 with a racy run to third at the Australian Grand Prix.
It was a typically swashbuckling display from Verstappen around Albert Park, with the Dutchman claiming his eventual third place from Sebastian Vettel with a terrific move around the outside of the Ferrari going into Turn 3. He eventually finished just 1.6 seconds adrift of the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, despite briefly running off the road during his red-hot pursuit of the world champion.
And for anyone worried about whether Honda’s power unit could cut it at the sharp end of the field, it was a pretty convincing rebuttal…
“Very satisfied,” said Verstappen, when asked if he was happy with his day’s work after claiming his own first Australian Grand Prix podium. “To get by Ferrari on this track is not easy around here, because it’s not easy to follow in general but yeah, of course happy to pull that move off and then challenge Lewis for second, was a good feeling.
“Of course, I think there’s still work to do, but to start the season like this in third and also the first podium for Honda in the V6 era, it’s a great start.”