Max Verstappen admits he had an inkling that Honda would depart Formula 1 before the official announcement came last week.
Honda confirmed it will withdraw from the sport as a power unit manufacturer after the 2021 season, leaving both Red Bull and sister team AlphaTauri without an engine deal for 2022.
Red Bull joined forces with Honda last year, one season after the Japanese manufacturer left McLaren to power Toro Rosso (AlphaTauri).
Verstappen says that Red Bull has been preparing for a such an announcement before the Japanese manufacturer made its decision public.
“You could feel it coming,” Verstappen said. “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.
“They are going to pull out but they are not going to just back off now, just keep working together because we have a great relationship.
“It’s really enjoyable to work with the guys so for the rest of the year we’ll keep on going.
“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.”
Verstappen is currently contracted to Red Bull until the end of 2023 after committing himself a new long-term deal in December of last year.
The Dutchman affirmed that signs of Honda’s departure came after his new deal was secured, but knew Honda wasn’t guaranteed to stick around when he penned the new contract.
“It [Honda’s departure indications] definitely came after I signed the deal but they never committed a lot longer,” Verstappen said.
“So you could expect something like this, you’re never sure. 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.”