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Sports News

Verstappen says he could see Honda exit coming

(Reuters) - Honda’s recent announcement that they will quit Formula One as an engine supplier at the end of next season surprised Max Verstappen less than most people.

Formula One F1 - Eifel Grand Prix - Nurburgring, Nurburg, Germany - October 8, 2020 Red Bull's Max Verstappen wearing a protective face mask during a press conference ahead of the Eifel Grand Prix FIA/Handout via REUTERS

“You could feel it coming,” the 23-year-old Red Bull driver, whose team use the Japanese power units, told reporters on Thursday ahead of the Eifel Grand Prix at Germany’s Nuerburgring.

“It’s a shame, but understandable from their side.”

Honda, whose decision to walk away surprised many in the sport given the engine’s improved performance, said it wanted to focus research and development resources on energy technologies including fuel cells and battery electric vehicles.

The announcement meant that Red Bull and sister team AlphaTauri, both race winners this season, will need to source new engines for 2022.

The choice is limited, with only three manufacturers -- Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari -- left in the sport as things stand.

“I hope I don’t end up like Fred Flintstone, that I have to pedal it for myself,” quipped Verstappen, referring to the cartoon character.

Verstappen has won four races with Honda engines, one at Silverstone this year, but is a distant third in the championship after several retirements.

“We just keep on pushing. Of course they are going to pull out but they are not going to just back off now,” said the Dutchman.

“We have a great relationship... so for the rest of the year we just keep on going and also for next year, introducing the new engine.

“I’m very much looking forward to that as well, to bring it to a good end and push until the last race.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis

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