Max Verstappen has admitted that he is “very excited” with how well the Honda power unit has progressed in the last few races.
Red Bull will end its partnership with Renault at the end of the season, taking on Honda engines for 2019 and beyond.
Their sister team, Toro Rosso, have felt the benefits of being with Honda this year, especially with improved qualifying performances in recent weeks.
Both Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley were in the top seven in qualifying in Japan, and had it not been for penalties, the pair were expected to be top ten in Austin as well.
“I am very excited,” Verstappen said of the Honda situation.
“They seemed really quick in qualifying, so of course we try to finish the season in the best way possible, and the whole team is very motivated [for next year].
“On the numbers and from what they are doing on the dyno already in terms of preparation for next year, it looks very promising.”
Gasly was seventh fastest in the first part of qualifying in Austin, less than a tenth behind Verstappen, which impressed the Dutchman.
“OK so they used a few more tyres but our car should be quite a bit better and they were very competitive. It’s good,” he said.
The Red Bull man believes that Honda have thrived this year as they have not been under the same amount of pressure as they were when they were teamed up with McLaren over the last three seasons.
“Basically now they did their own thing in making the engine, instead of the team telling them how to make the engine,” Verstappen added.
“They got a few people on board, different management and it looks very promising.
“Of course a year ago it was a bit difficult to really judge that but that was always their intention.
“You have to wait to see if they are really going to succeed, but they are definitely heading in the right direction so I’m very happy with that.”
As long as Red Bull can provide a good car for 2019, Verstappen reckons that with the Honda engine, the team can fight for wins early in the season.
“It’s a bit difficult to tell now but if we build a magical chassis and the engine is working reasonably well, then maybe we can,” the Dutchman added.
“I think at the moment probably not but we will see.”
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