Verstappen: Honda has improved a lot since last season

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has said that Honda has improved their engine performance a lot since last year’s Formula 1 season.

The Milton Keynes-based team ditched Renault in favour of Honda for last year, despite concerns about the Japanese firm’s reliability after a disastrous return to the series with McLaren, but they made a clear step forward from previous seasons, with Verstappen winning races in Austria, Germany and Brazil.

After finishing last season with the second fastest car, ahead of Ferrari, Red Bull are keen to maintain their form through to the start of this year, after being notorious for not being quite as quick as others at the opening race of the season, but pre-season testing went well, and Verstappen has been impressed by the work Honda has done over the winter.

Speaking about the opening race of the season this weekend in Melbourne, Verstappen said: “Everybody here knows that to be successful you need to fully understand the car, do a lot of laps and we were pleased with our testing in Barcelona.

“We got good mileage, things ran pretty smoothly and that’s exactly what we wanted.

“Honda are also pushing flat out. You always want improvements and they have made a lot since last year.

“The real bonus is that what they say they will deliver development wise always happens and I’m confident that will be the case again this year.”

Although nobody really knows where they will be in the pecking order until the race weekend in Australia gets underway, the 22-year-old is hopeful that Red Bull can be title challengers from the outset.

“I believe we can move forward and get back to challenging like we did in the past.” he added.

“We have the right people in the team and I think we have everything we need to challenge, especially with the dedication from Honda.

“I’d like to start the season strong, because then it’s really on but we won’t know where we stand until Q2 and Q3 on Saturday in Melbourne, that’s where all the hard work over the winter really counts.”