How Honda avoided Verstappen becoming a critic like Alonso
Honda motorsport chief Masashi Yamamoto believes a good first impression may have eased relations with Max Verstappen and prevented a repeat of public lashings the marque previously took.
Verstappen has secured Honda's first victories in F1 for more than a decade in recent weeks, winning the Austrian and German Grands Prix with Red Bull, hailing the work done by the teams engine supplier in the process.
The Dutchman's praise and backing of Honda is in sharp contrast to the last superstar to work with them in Formula 1, Fernando Alonso.
While the double F1 world champion was highly critical of the Japanese marque in three fruitless years with McLaren, Verstappen has often praised Honda's approach, something Yamamoto believes may have been helped by his initial dealings with the team.
"When Max came to Honda's factory at Sakura in 2017, it looked like he was so impressed by the facility," Yamamoto told Autosport.
"So he was enjoying looking at the facility. Maybe he's got the impression he can do something with Honda, maybe he has that kind of positive feeling and that's affecting his behaviour."
The Red Bull partnership has thrust Honda to the sharp end of Formula 1 once again, having powered the memorable battles between McLaren rivals Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in the late 1980s.
Verstappen's meticulous approach to racing, and lively on-track style, has helped extract the best once again from the manufacturer.
"He's very important for us," Yamamoto said. "It is very important to have a driver like him.
"First he's very good at driving itself. He's very good at communicating with the engineers. He's very good at analysing the data, and also his driving.
"He can give accurate feedback in terms of chassis and engine, so he's excellent."
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