Ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Max got an adrenaline-fuelled taste of Honda’s first Grand Prix winning car, the RA272, at the Japanese manufacturer’s Tochigi Proving Ground.
Max and 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato got behind the wheel of the 1965 1.5 litre V12 at Honda’s state of the art test facility before the Dutchman slipped into the more familiar cockpit of our 2011 RB7 in front of the watching Honda employees.
After a thrilling blast around the circuit, the Dutchman was full of praise for Honda’s first F1 race winner. “It was very cool to get to experience this car,” he beamed. “I think the oldest race car I’ve driven before today was from about 2008. It’s quite different, but I really enjoyed it. The pure emotion from the engine and the car itself was incredible. I didn’t even fit properly in the car! But it was an amazing experience for sure. I’m very happy that I was born a bit later [than to have raced this car], but of course I’m really grateful to be able to experience it. I don’t think I would race it myself, and if you look back 50 years the evolution is insane. But it is good fun to go back to these cars. The main difference in the RB7 was that I had seatbelts! In the other one I didn’t, so it felt a bit odd,” Max laughed. “With the RA272 I had to shift gears with a foot clutch, which I haven’t done in quite some time. It’s a different feeling but both felt good.”
Former Jordan, BAR and Honda F1 racer Takuma added, “This is a really special moment for any race car driver. There’s such a nostalgic feeling with it. The car is obviously very different to modern formula cars and race cars and Max has just experienced how tricky it is to make it run smoothly. I’m really fortunate to have had some opportunities to run those old cars at past events and it always makes me smile.”