Honda gains 'very promising' for 2019 F1 hopes - Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen says Honda’s recent gains are “very promising” for 2019, when Red Bull will switch to using the marque’s power units.

Red Bull has been powered by Renault since 2007 but opted to sever its ties with the manufacturer in order to link up with Honda, which has partnered sister team Toro Rosso in 2018.

Honda introduced its Spec 3 engine for its home event in Japan and both Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley made Q3, while in the United States Gasly headed the midfield group in Q1.

Neither Gasly nor Hartley set a timed lap in Q2, owing to taking on new components that have relegated them to the back of the grid, but Verstappen says recent gains have been encouraging.

“Yeah, I’m very excited, they [Honda] seemed really quick [in qualifying],” he said.

“Of course now we try to finish of the session it he best way possible, but the whole team is very motivated for next year.

“The numbers and what they’re doing on the dyno already in terms of preparation for next year [is positive], it looks very promising.”

Verstappen believes that a changed mentality, compared to when Honda partnered with McLaren, has been influential in the company making such progress.

“Basically now they [Honda] just did their own thing in making the engine instead of the team telling them how to make the engine,” said Verstappen.

“They got a few people on board as well, different management, so looks very promising.

“Of course a year ago it was a bit difficult to really judge that but that was always their intention.

“We have to wait if they are really going to succeed in that but they are definitely heading into the right direction, so happy with that.”