Verstappen felt Honda F1 exit coming but Gasly saw a 'very bright future'

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Max Verstappen admits he wasn't that surprised by Honda's decision to leave Formula 1 after 2021.

Last week, the Japanese manufacturer surprised many by announcing they would exit the sport just seven years after returning with McLaren in 2015.

A disastrous first three years though saw the two parties split at the end of 2017, with Honda moving to Toro Rosso for the following year before adding Red Bull at the start of last season.

With the two teams, the company made strong progress and enjoyed decent success, including five wins, but Verstappen, who has scored four of Honda's victories, sensed something would happen.

“You could feel it coming,” he said on Thursday at the Nurburgring. “Of course, you don’t show it but of course I also knew it a little bit earlier than the announcement.

“It’s a shame but understandable from their side. We just keep on pushing, that’s also what they said.

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“They are going to pull out but they are not going to just back off now. We will just keep working together because we have a great relationship, and also for next year, with a 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.”

The news though has also led to questions over Verstappen's own future at Red Bull beyond next year, particularly if a seat at Mercedes becomes available, but that was something the Dutchman downplayed.

“It definitely came after I signed the [new Red Bull] deal but they never committed a lot longer,” Verstappen said of Honda's hints at leaving F1.

“So you could expect something like this, you’re never sure but that’s the same for teams as well. You sign a deal with them, but who knows what is happening in five years time.

“It is what it is, to be honest. Like I said, you could feel it coming, I guess the whole situation in the whole wide world is definitely not helping.

“Especially from the beginning of this year onward, once we finally got started, it’s just not easy.”

That view though was in contrast to AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly, who feels Honda has decided to leave at the wrong moment in their project.

“I have had a pretty long relationship with them, starting in 2017 in Super Formula. I really enjoyed and I’m still enjoying working with these guys,” the Frenchman said.

“They are really dedicated, committed, and when they have a target in mind that they work so hard until they achieve it. So honestly, it’s sad, sad news.

“The evolution, the development, I think has been very impressive over the last few years.

“They managed to win races last year. Now, this season with the two teams, Red Bull and AlphaTauri, I could see a very bright future for them. So hopefully they can get a shot at the title next year before they leave.”