In 2020, Honda F1 are once again powering 4 cars on the grid. The new season sees a continuation of the flourishing relationship started with Toro Rosso in 2018, which last year brought the team 2 podiums – 3rd in Germany and 2nd in Brazil – their best results since 2008 and a record points haul in the constructors’ championship. We also continue our work with their proven big brother Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, after a positive debut season with the Milton Keynes based team.
2019 saw 9 podiums for Red Bull Racing and Honda, including 3 wins for the young Dutch driver, Max Verstappen. A few moments of success won’t satisfy this team however, as we continue to develop the best possible package we can deliver to the 4 cars we proudly power, heading into 2020. Both the AT01 (Scuderia AlphaTauri) and RB16 (Aston Martin Red Bull Racing) will be powered by the Honda RA620H power unit, with each of the 22 races providing opportunities to learn, progress, grow and hopefully, succeed. It’s now over 60 years on since Honda Racing took our first step in motorsport and we’ll be working tirelessly all year to bring results our founder - Soichiro Honda - would be proud of.
Toyoharu Tanabe joined the Honda F1 team in 2018, into what was then a new role of Technical Director, heading up our power unit operation track side. Having arrived from our successful Indy Car programme where he was the Senior Manager of Honda Performance Development, he delved straight into the then new relationship with Toro Rosso. Stepping on the podium in Austria alongside Max Verstappen, Tanabe-san lead the way as he picked up the constructors’ trophy for the team’s first victory since 2006. Having first been on the F1 scene back in the 80s, Tanabe has previous experience of success in this sport – something he’ll undoubtedly be looking to repeat heading into 2020.
For a second year, Masashi Yamamoto takes on the role of Honda F1 Managing Director. Yamamoto-san’s role means that he is now solely focussed on the Formula 1 operation, underlining just how important this project is to Honda, especially coming into such a crucial year as the 2020 season with Scuderia Alpha Tauri and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. From 2016-18 Yamamoto-san was responsible for all Honda’s motorsport activities on 2 and 4 wheels. As General Manager of the Motorsport Department, Yamamoto oversaw Honda’s victories in several categories, such as Super GT and Super Formula in the domestic racing scene in Japan, which saw Honda win again for the first time in many years.
Born in 1996, in Rouen, France, 24-year-old Pierre drove his way up the grids of Formula Renault 2.0 and 3.5 before going on to become Formula 2 champion in 2016. Confident, aggressive and a master of overtaking, he showed his skills in 2017 driving with us in the Japanese Super Formula. Nearly taking the championship title in his rookie year, he was denied by a cancelled final race of the season. Pierre made his F1 debut in Malaysia 2017 and raced with us once again in the 2018 season for Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda. Showcasing his natural racing pedigree, Pierre accomplished some positive results – including a 4th place finish in Bahrain. A popular figure amongst the Honda Racing F1 ranks, 2019 saw a new challenge for the both of us as he was promoted to the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team where he spent the first half of the season. With Red Bull able to rotate their drivers' freely, Pierre re-joined the Toro Rosso Honda team from Spa onwards. He went on to string together multiple Q3 performances in Qualifying and claimed a shock second podium for Scuderia Toro Rosso of the season, taking P2 behind Max Verstappen at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
A young driver with an already big reputation, Max began his F1 career at just 17 years and 166 days old with Toro Rosso. Now 22, he is about to begin his fourth season with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and his second with Honda Racing F1. Our debut season with the young Dutchman saw his best finish in F1 with 9 trips to the podium, including 3 wins in Austria, Germany and Brazil. 2019 wasn’t Max’s first time in a Honda garage however, with his father Jos testing for us before the 2000 season – Verstappen wasn’t ever too far away from the action. Max began his career racing in the Florida Winter series, then going on to drive in the Formula 3 championship. This all just a year before becoming the youngest F1 driver to start a World Championship race, in 2015. With 8 wins, 2 poles and 31 podiums to his name heading into the 2020 season, Max has already tasted success. Communication and efficiency will once again be key as we hope to build on the hard work done in 2019 and keep results coming, in pursuit of the top 2 teams.
The Russian started his career as many others do, in karting. Competing in Formula BMW, Formula Renault, the Toyota Racing Series and GP3 from 2010-2013, it was then that his time would come to step up to F1. Working his way through the ranks as a Junior Red Bull driver, he took to the starting grid in 2014 as a Toro Rosso driver for the first time, aged 19. The following year he was promoted to Red Bull Racing after the departure of 4 times world champion, Sebastian Vettel. In October 2017 it was announced that he had been released from the Red Bull Driver development program and spent the 2018 season as a test and reserve driver for Ferrari. All this, for a man who is only now 25 years old. For the 2019 season he re-joined Scuderia Toro Rosso with Honda Racing F1 now powering the team. In the pressurized environment of F1 Daniil has worked hard to get back to where he is. His determination shone through on a rainy afternoon in Germany where Daniil took his place on the podium, finishing P3 and giving Toro Rosso their first trophy since 2008. All this on the weekend that saw the birth of his first child, Penelope! We look forward to another year with Dany, who has driven more races for the Faenza-based team than anyone else.
Born in London in 1996, Alex was encouraged at an early age to begin karting by his father who was an ex racer himself. From 2006-2010 he enjoyed success racing through the classes of the Super 1 Honda National Championship. Joining the Red Bull Junior Programme for just one year in 2012, he then spent the next few years building experience in Formula Renault 2.0 before partnering current Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc at ART in 2016, where they finished 1st and 2nd in the GP3 series. Alex joined Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda in 2019 straight from taking 3rd place in the FIA Formula 2 Championship with ART in which he collected 3 pole positions and 8 podiums, including 4 victories. As one of three rookies graduating from F2 in 2019, it was an exciting year for him. Impressive form in the first half of the season saw Alex earn a seat with the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team from Spa onwards, finishing his debut season P8 in the drivers’ championship.
Starting his career in the driving seat, Christian had success working his way through British Formula Renault, British Formula 3 and British Formula 2 championships before retiring from driving aged just 25. Horner admitted that he felt he wasn’t as quick as the best drivers and turned his energy to the Arden team he founded in 1997. It was during this time he was introduced to Helmut Marko, who headed up the Red Bull Junior Team. Appointed to the Red Bull team shortly after its inception in late 2004, he was the youngest Team Principal on the grid. 4 Constructors titles and 4 Drivers titles later, the rest is history. A respected figure up and down the pit lane, our inaugural season with the team in 2019 was a great learning curve and we hope to have another good year pushing on alongside Christian and the rest of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing in 2020.
A paddock legend, Franz has headed up Scuderia Toro Rosso since the team first raced in 2006 and this year oversees its change of name to Scuderia AlphaTauri. There at the start of many young drivers’ careers, including four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, he leads the challenger team as they doggedly pursue every opportunity alongside Honda Racing F1. Franz brings decades of motorsport experience to Toro Rosso’s youthful energy and has been one of our closest contacts, as well as a good friend, in the Toro Rosso-Honda partnership. We look forward to another year alongside one of the hardest working men in the paddock.