The Japanese manufacturer ended its win drought earlier this season in Austria, where Max Verstappen scored the first victory for Red Bull and Honda’s new-for-2019 partnership.
Honda is weighing up whether to continue in F1 after the end of next season, and its victory in Austria was well-timed as it preceded a key board meeting.
The company’s F1 managing director Masashi Yamamoto told Motorsport.com that in terms of the significance of the place and timing for Honda’s first win since returning to F1 in 2015, “maybe the only place it can equal is Suzuka”.
Yamamoto added that what Honda has achieved at this stage of the season is “quite in accordance with my plan, what I had hoped”.
“There is not much we could do more than this,” he said. “What we’ve kept saying is we wanted to exceed last year’s Red Bull result.
“We didn’t say we want to win five races but we want to exceed the points Red Bull scored last year and maybe five wins is possible.”
Honda needs three more wins and nine more podiums with Red Bull to beat the team’s 2018 record with Renault, but is on course to beat its points tally despite a performance disparity between the team’s 2019 drivers.
Pierre Gasly has struggled in his first year with the Red Bull senior team and will be replaced by Alex Albon from the Belgian Grand Prix, but Verstappen’s impressive campaign means Red Bull has 21 more points with Honda than it did at the same stage with Renault.
Verstappen has 181 points with Honda power compared to 105 points at the same point in 2018.
Even Daniel Ricciardo, who was Red Bull’s lead driver in the championship heading into the summer break, only had 118 points.
Yamamoto moved into a new F1-specific role for this season after previously being head of Honda’s motorsport division, in order to give the project dedicated focus as Honda prepared for a major opportunity with Red Bull.
His faith in Honda’s ongoing participation has been increased following the two victories, after triggering a strong public response in addition to being well-received in the company.
“I think it’s going to encourage us for continuation,” said Yamamoto. “Honda and generally in society [in Japan] are in a very good mood that Honda has won. I think it’s going to be very good for us.”
“It’s very difficult to clarify at this moment about the timing. It’s true we’re discussing it within the company. But we can’t really say when we can announce it, at the moment.”
2018 with Renault
2019 with Honda
Ricciardo finishes fourth, denied a charging podium by Raikkonen’s Ferrari
Verstappen scores a podium on Red Bull’s first start with Honda
Ricciardo suffers an electrical problem and retires early on, Verstappen also stops but because of accident damage
Verstappen qualifies a distant fifth, finishes fourth
Red Bull celebrates a safety-car assisted first win of the season as Ricciardo executes a superior strategy perfectly – although did suffer a spectacular engine failure in practice
Red Bull splits the Ferraris in the race as Verstappen finishes fourth again
The two Red Bull drivers take each other out of the grand prix after running a distant fourth and fifth
Verstappen splits the Ferraris again for his third-consecutive fourth place finish. Gasly suffers a driveshaft (car, not engine) failure.
Verstappen scores his first podium of 2018 and finishes as the best non-Mercedes
Red Bull fights Ferrari for best of the rest honours behind Mercedes in qualifying, Verstappen overhauls Vettel for a second podium of the season
Ricciardo wins despite suffering an MGU-K failure during the race, while Verstappen is only ninth after a practice crash rules him out of qualifying
Verstappen is Mercedes’ closest challenger and fights Hamilton for the win but drops to fourth after a time penalty for contact with Bottas in the pitlane
Verstappen finishes third, just behind Bottas’s Mercedes, as Ricciardo beats Hamilton to fourth
An early qualifying elimination, thanks to a badly-timed red flag, puts Verstappen on the back foot and he fights back to fifth in the race
A first-corner Bottas/Vettel clash gifts Verstappen second, while Ricciardo is a lonely fourth
Honda introduces its Spec 3 engine as Red Bull struggles, but Verstappen still splits the Ferraris in the race
Reliability woes strike Ricciardo again, this time in the form of an exhaust failure, but Verstappen wins as Mercedes’ challenge implodes
Verstappen wins despite almost stalling at the start, charging back through to claim Red Bull’s first win with Honda
Brake woes curtail Verstappen’s race. Ricciardo is fifth as Red Bull trail Mercedes and Ferrari considerably at Silverstone
At a power-sensitive track, Red Bull is faster than Ferrari again and Verstappen is only denied a podium by a Vettel wipeout, as Gasly finishes fourth
More engine component changes consign Ricciardo to a back of the grid start, then his engine fails during the race. Verstappen finishes fourth.
Verstappen takes win #2 for Red Bull-Honda after another solid qualifying performance, as Ferrari implodes in qualifying then rain causes chaos in the race
Verstappen suffers an early engine failure and lets rip at Renault over the team radio. Ricciardo is off the podium again in fourth.
Red Bull celebrates its first pole with Honda and the first of Verstappen’s career, but cannot keep Hamilton at bay in the race and has to settle for second
Wins after 12 GPs
Podiums after 12 GPs
Points after 12 GPs