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Verstappen makes the Japanese proud: 'A similar effect to Senna'

Verstappen makes the Japanese proud: 'A similar effect to Senna'

07-10-2022 18:41 Last update: 20:44

After a three-year absence, Formula 1 is back in Japan, where the drivers were welcomed with open arms by the ever-enthusiastic fans. Max Verstappen's popularity has reached new heights in the country, fuelled by the highly successful partnership between Red Bull Racing and Honda.

That collaboration was intensified ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing announced before the weekend. Verstappen stressed that it was extra special to announce the news at Suzuka of all places, even though he feels the engine supplier has never been away. "We have always continued to work together behind the scenes, in a very nice way," the Dutchman is quoted by Dutch newspaper The Telegraph.

Popularity of Verstappen in Japan

Racing driver Tom Coronel saw Verstappen become a crowd favourite in Japan as early as 2019, after giving Honda its first win since 2006 in Austria earlier that year. "With that, he turned the whole country upside down," said Coronel, who saw the Red Bull driver play an important role in the increasingly close partnership with Honda. "The name Verstappen is now also synonymous with the word Honda in Japan."

If Verstappen succeeds in securing his second world title this weekend, Coronel predicts a huge celebration in Japan. Moreover, the Dutchman would follow in the footsteps of the legendary Ayrton Senna, who captured all three of his world titles at Suzuka with a Honda engine in the back of his McLaren. "Because of Senna, Honda became globally known back then. I see a similar effect here now because of Max. He really makes the Japanese proud," Coronel said.

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