Verstappen vs Senna: How the Dutchman broke into the top of Honda’s stats

When it comes to racing and Honda, there is one timeless name that has always been associated with the Japanese brand: Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian legend drove a McLaren Honda from 1988 until the end of 1992, which seemed like a mix of another world. With the current performance of Max Verstappen and the two world titles he has now won, the Dutchman mentions a lot from Senna. What did the Senna track with Honda look like and does it look like the Verstappen track? F1 max Discover it.

Senna drove five seasons with McLaren with a Honda power unit and was very tied to the Japanese engine supplier as a result. The Brazilian won the 1988 and 1990 championships in Japan, just as Verstappen won the 2022 championship in Suzuka. A three-time world champion with Honda, the Brazilian was able to write impressive stats: Senna completed 80 grand prix with McLaren Honda, racking up 32 wins, 46 pole positions and 52 podiums.

Senna and McLaren Honda: a golden combination

Senna’s relationship with Honda began in 1987, although the Brazilian was part of Lotus at the time. Lotus replaced Renault engines with Honda engines before the start of the new season. The Japanese appreciated Sina’s hard work, technique and dedication, which resulted in a lot of mutual respect. In addition, the three-time world champion had a certain relationship with Japan. His three titles from 1988, 1990 and 1991 were taken over Suzuka.

Senna has joined McLaren Honda since 1988, convinced of the success of Ron Dennis and Honda, who also won the championship in 1986. Honda switched from Williams to McLaren. The British racing stable previously had a problem with TAG-Porsche engines, but the Japanese engine supplier changed that like never before. In 1988, Senna drove a McLaren with Alain Prost, which turned out to be a very solid combination. In total, the team failed to win only one race, and the team also missed a first place in the entire season.

McLaren Honda dominated almost the entire 1988 season, giving Senna the insight and confidence to continue the strong Japanese team. So the Brazilian signed with the British racing stable for three years. Besides how well the combination of a McLaren car and Honda engine worked, Honda was also very reliable. In the 1988 season, there were only four rounds. With Honda, Cena broke Prost and Jim Clark’s records with the most wins in a season: seven, Cena had eight. He also got thirteen pole positionssetting the record for nine pole positions by Nelson Piquet in 1984 Crushed.

The Brazilian’s seasons with Honda saw his persistence, power and Honda driving, as well as the dedication that came from both sides. In 1991, Cena became the youngest three-time world champion, winning seven races that season. He also expanded his record in first place to sixty in 127 matches. Prior to the 1991 season, Senna argued that Honda’s V12 engine was not as powerful as the 1990 V10, but he went on to win Grand Prix races in Phoenix, Brazil, Imola and Monaco, as his opponents struggled to keep up.

Senna argued that season that Honda should ramp up its engine program. He demanded more car improvements before the end of the season, eventually winning three more races and profiting in the 1991 championship. In 1992, the three-time world champion actually wanted to move to Williams, but Honda CEO Nobuhiko Kawamoto asked him to stay with McLaren. Honda. Cena did so out of loyalty and because of the success he’s had with the team and with Honda. In 1992, Cena did not win the championship, and finished fourth, but won the Monaco Grand Prix. In 1994, the Brazilian joined Williams.

Verstappen vs. Verstappen. Sina: Who had better with the Honda engine?

Red Bull Racing, the two-time world champion Austrian, has introduced the Honda engine for RB cars from 2019. In total, the Dutchman drove three seasons with the Honda engine in his car. Honda said goodbye to Formula 1 in 2021, but continued to support the Red Bull Powertrains team. As of 2022, Verstappen has driven with a power source that is a collaboration with Red Bull Powertrains-Honda, so the 2022 season is also included in the stats. In these seasons, Verstappen has won two titles, quite a few podiums and also pole positions Achieve.


Verstappen (2019-2022*)

Sina (1987** – 1992)

The race begins









pole positions









win rate



* The 2022 season is still on.

**Senna won the last two races in 1987 with Lotus Honda, which had just switched to the Japanese power unit.

So far, Senna is ahead in statistics, although the 1988-1992 seasons included only 16 races per season. In 2019-2022 there were more than twenty races per season, which gives Verstappen a chance to score more than a dozen victories in the 2022 season. The two drivers have almost identical victories to Honda, but the number pole positions unattainable.

So Honda was the dominant power source in Senna’s time, beginning its hybrid era with Red Bull in 2019. On some tracks, Senna and Prost were more than a second faster, and the competition was far away for them. Verstappen has far fewer DNFs than Senna in Honda’s time, while Honda’s are all-time equal except for two. Four times the engine was the cause of Senna’s failure. From Verstappen’s DNFs, the engine has only been the culprit twice so far, so it can be concluded that Honda’s power unit is more reliable in the hybrid era.

Max Verstappen dominates Suzuka to win his second world title

Since Senna had only had a Honda engine in his car since the end of the 1987 season, he drove five full seasons (1988-1992) with the Japanese engine, during which he won three world titles. If Verstappen also wins the 2023 season, the two drivers will have won an equal number of championships with Honda’s power unit. Verstappen can almost match the number of wins this season. In the case where the Dutchman wins the next four races, he has 31 wins in four seasons.

Verstappen ends Honda’s wait for victory

Masashi Yamamoto, Honda Director, discussed in How Verstappen reminded him of a young Senna’s relationship with Honda. According to the Honda manager, the Dutchman treats Honda with respect, and in some victories, Verstappen has proudly pointed out the Honda logo on his clothing. “This motivates us to give him a good drive. Our passion that became apparent after the victories strengthened our relationship with him (Verstappen, editor), Yamamoto said.

Max Verstappen shows pride in Honda after beating Austria in 2019
Max Verstappen shows pride in Honda after beating Austria in 2019

“He visited the Formula 1 Center and the mass production line. Lots of people work at those facilities, and he met them. Experiences like this can help him cement his commitment to Honda.” With Honda, the two-time world champion has achieved great things, including two world titles, which gave Honda the motivation to continue supporting Red Bull Powertrains until the end of 2025. In addition, Honda has also expressed interest in joining Red Bull Powertrains from 2026, when New powertrain regulations come into effect.

Verstappen and Red Bull Racing gave Honda the opportunity to once again appear in front of their home crowd and win, and the way it did, reminded many Japanese fans of the Brazilian legend. This creates the same kind of loyalty and dedication towards the Japanese motorcycle supplier. Verstappen said in Viaplay After the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix, the Japanese had an incredible drive and discipline from which the Europeans could learn something.

In Honda they mention Verstappen and Senna at the same time

Senna tops almost all Honda stats and is fourth in the standings with the most victories for a single engine supplier, 32. Lewis Hamilton is first in this ranking, having won 103 races with Mercedes, a number that has increased since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix of the year 2021 at a standstill.

Verstappen won the 2021 championship in the last race of the season, but won his second title in Japan, just as Senna did his first. While the Limburger has yet to top the Honda stats, it is on its way there. The fact that Honda employees and Honda manager name Verstappen and Senna at the same time says a lot about their relationship with Verstappen.

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