Red Bull optimistic Honda will put them on a par with Mercedes/Ferrari

Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko says the team is "optimistic" its new Honda power unit will put it on a par with its main championship rivals, Mercedes and Ferrari, for the 2019 Formula 1 season.

Red Bull is making the switch from Renault to Honda power this year, bringing it in line with its sister team Toro Rosso which ran with Honda for the 2018 season.

The Milton Keynes based team has long complained that Renault's power unit is to blame for it not being able to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari on a regular basis, with an average 40hp deficit during races and more in qualifying, as it hasn't been able to use what's been dubbed 'party mode' – a more powerful engine map utilised by its rivals.

But Marko believes the data coming from Honda with its 2019 development plan will close that gap and allow Red Bull to fight for wins more often.

"The figures [from Honda] make us really optimistic with regard to the increase in performance," the Austrian told Autosport.

"The Honda engine is already slightly above the Renault engine. If you combine our GPS data with the data provided by Honda, we'll be in the Mercedes and Ferrari region.

"Of course they're not sleeping either. But they are already at such a high level that they can no longer make such [big] jumps."

Honda is unlikely to be an exact match for Mercedes and Ferrari, but Marko is confident Red Bull's chassis can make up for the smaller deficit, whilst the so-called 'party mode' will be available.

"Even if we should be 10 or 15kW behind, that was no different in our Renault era with the eight-cylinder engine. We can make up for that [and] for the first time we can also celebrate with a 'party mode'!"