Honda will bow out from Formula 1 on a high, and as an expression of its gratitude towards 2021 world champion Max Verstappen, the manufacturer has gifted a very special trophy to the Red Bull driver.
After Sunday's dramatic climax and triumph in Abu Dhabi, Honda Racing's top brass presented Verstappen with the trophy designed to be bestowed on the winner of this year's Japanese Grand Prix.
Unfortunately, F1's was forced to cancel its race at Suzuka, that was scheduled to take place last October, for the second year in succession due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
But by the time the event was scrapped, Honda had already commissioned this year's trophy. So it was offered to Verstappen as a fitting reward and a farewell endowment marking three years of a prosperous relationship between the Japanese manufacturer and Red Bull.
Honda initiated its partnership with Red Bull Racing in 2019 following a disastrous three-year association with McLaren, and a year with Red Bull sister outfit AlphaTauri.
Overall, Honda achieved 16 wins with its Red Bull Racing partner, 15 of which were delivered by Verstappen.
The impressive track record marked an impressive turnaround from the engine supplier's early days in the hybrid era with McLaren.
"We came back into the sport in 2015 as a PU supplier, attracted by this very sophisticated hybrid PU technology," said Honda’s Formula 1 chief Masashi Yamamoto.
"Compared to our rivals, our development time was relatively short and partly because of that, we struggled a lot in the beginning and we hit rock bottom in the early days.
"However, even while having to deal with logistical difficulties partly down to the Covid-19 pandemic, in this our last season we have been fighting with very strong rivals and we came out on top of the Formula 1 world.
"This is due to all the hard work from all our engineers and mechanics, not just those at the race track.
"They never gave up even in the most difficult times and made numerous technological breakthroughs along the way.
"We were able to prove the validity and effectiveness of our technology and the abilities of our workforce."
— Honda Racing F1 (@HondaRacingF1) December 13, 2021
Despite Honda and McLaren's failed partnership, Yamamoto paid tribute to the Woking-based outfit for its contribution to Honda's F1 program.
"Of course, we could not have achieved these results without the major role played by our great partners, Red Bull Racing with whom we won the title and also Scuderia AlphaTauri who welcomed us with an open mind, allowing us to move forward together after a difficult three years," added Yamamoto.
"We should not forget McLaren, with whom this era started back in 2015 and all the drivers who have worked with us, always putting maximum effort into achieving the best possible results.
"Without all these elements working together and without the passion of each individual involved, we would not be where we are today."