Masashi Yamamoto, the CEO of Honda took no solace in Max Verstappen's second place at the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix. The Honda boss feels that after six years in F1 the engine supplier is ready to win a championship.
Despite entering the first round of the 2021 championship as favourites, Red Bull and Max Verstappen were denied a first win of the season by a clever strategy executed by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. With Red Bull benefitting massively from the gains made by the Honda power unit, the head of the Japanese brand felt that their car should have won the race.
"I'm very sorry, but I think we had the speed to win, so I was speechless when we crossed the line in second place," Yamamoto told Japanese AS Web.
"If it had been our first podium now, second place would have been something to be satisfied with but now that we are aiming for the world title, I can only conclude that we lost a victory. I think that is very bad."
A big cause for the defeat were the problems faced by Sergio Perez prior to the start of the race. The Mexican experienced an electrical failure forcing him to start from the pitlane. Yamamoto said they will look into the incident while praising Perez's tenacity.
"We will of course investigate them, but afterwards Perez showed what kind of wood he is made of by advancing to P5," Yamamoto said.
"Had (he) started from his normal starting position, he could have turned it into a two-on-two fight between Red Bull and Mercedes instead of a one-on-one fight. In that respect it was a reasonable opening weekend."
Despite the end result, Yamamoto was satisfied with the significant improvement of the Honda power unit.
"From the first free practice to qualifying, everything went perfectly," Yamamoto said.
"In qualifying, Verstappen managed to beat Lewis Hamilton by four-tenths, indicating that we are indeed fighting Mercedes."
With the championship heading to the Imola race circuit, Red Bull will once again be the favourites to take the win. Given the form Verstappen has been in over the past year, that first win of the season will come sooner rather than later.