Max Verstappen admits he is excited by the potential of the Honda power unit after seeing the progress being made in recent weeks by the Japanese manufacturer at Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda, particularly in Qualifying in the United States Grand Prix.
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing will make the switch to Honda power in 2019 after opting to leave behind their long-term partners Renault, but Verstappen says the advancement of the Honda engine since it introduced its new specification has given them some motivation and confidence for their first season together.
“I am very excited,” Verstappen is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “They seemed pretty quick [in qualifying], so of course now we try to finish off the season in the best way possible, and the whole team is very motivated to start work on next year.
“With just the numbers and what they are doing on the dyno already in terms of preparation for next year, it looks very promising.
“Okay, they used a few more tyres – but still our car should be quite a bit better and they were very competitive. It is good.”
Verstappen reckons the progress being made by Honda now is due to the restraints from their previous relationship with the McLaren F1 Team being released, allowing them to do their own thing and finding solutions to the problems they have faced.
“Basically now they just did their own thing in making their own engine instead of the team telling them how to make the engine,” said the Dutchman. “They got a few people on board, and different management, so it looks very promising.
“A year ago it was a bit difficult to judge that, but that was always their intention.
“As always, you have to wait and see if they are going to succeed in that, but they are definitely heading into the right direction so I am very happy with that. The whole team is upbeat and very excited and motivated.”
Verstappen admits it is difficult to tell whether Red Bull can be a race-winning team at the start of 2019 with Honda, but he suspects it will take time to happen.
“It is a bit difficult to tell now,” said Verstappen. “If we build a magical chassis and the engine is working really well, then maybe we can.
“At the moment I think not, but we have to wait and see.”