Max Verstappen drove Richie Ginther’s 1965 Mexican Grand Prix winning Honda RA272 during a special event at the auto giant’s test facility at Tochigi and afterwards the Red Bull driver declared he was happy to be driving in this era.
It was the 22-year-old Red Bull driver’s first taste of historic machinery and said after his laps in the iconic Formula 1 race car.
He said afterwards, “It was very cool to get to experience this car. 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.”
Honda raced in F1 as a team from 1964 until the end of 1968, with their only other win in the top flight at the time coming with John Surtees in Italy at the wheel of the Honda RA300. It was also one of the deadliest periods in the sport’s history.
Jo Schlesser was killed in the magnesium-bodied RA302 during the 1968 French Grand Prix which ultimately led to Honda pulling the plug on F1 as a team.
Perhaps mindful of the perils of the period, Verstappen admitted, “I’m very happy that I was born a bit later, 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.”
Local hero and Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato also drove the old but pristinely maintained Honda RA272 during the event.