Honda was 'on the edge' with cooling in Austria

Red Bull Honda's Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen’s Honda power unit was "on the edge" in terms of cooling en route to his victory at Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix, according to the manufacturer.

Honda returned to Formula 1 in 2015 but struggled for performance and reliability during its tricky relationship with McLaren, which came to a conclusion in 2017.

Having spent 2018 largely out of the spotlight with Toro Rosso, Honda aligned itself with front-runner Red Bull for 2019, with the partnership starting the year on the podium.

Honda’s lengthy wait for a victory came to an end in Austria after Verstappen passed Charles Leclerc to secure the lead just three laps from the chequered flag.

It ensured Honda joined Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault power in winning a race in the sport’s hybrid era.

“I’m very happy to see Max’s strong race,” said Honda F1 technical chief Toyoharu Tanabe.

“Just after the race start I was a bit surprised and then got nervous. After that his pace was good, very good.

“In the middle of the race I started to believe we could go to a higher position. Then, finally, Max finished the race in first place, and it was fantastic.

“We were on the edge on terms of cooling. Of course, the high temperatures forced us to save the Power Unit. We tried to extract as much power as we could.”

Tanabe added that Honda was slightly surprised at being able to win a race given its deficit to Mercedes and Ferrari at other venues.

“From the previous races we could see a very strong Mercedes but sometimes we could compete with Ferrari,” he said.

“[In Austria], differently, we showed them the strongest performance, so I’m a bit surprised.”