Verstappen: Honda is making strides

A (very) vocal critic of Renault, Max Verstappen has just four more races driving a Red Bull powered by the French manufacturer before switching to Honda.

The youngster is impressed with the progress the Japanese manufacturer is currently making with sister team Toro Rosso.

In the wake of Japan, where an admittedly confused qualifying session saw the Toro Rossos qualify sixth and seventh, asked if he thinks the Japanese manufacturer has now surpassed Renault he told his own website: “I think so.

“Q3 was of course a somewhat separate session,” he continued, “but then they are still in front of the Renaults which is the factory team.

“I think Toro Rosso‘s car is not that strong in general, but you can see that Honda is making strides.”

And in terms of race speed?

“In the race it does not matter that much,” he insists, “but if the car is not at its best, it will not use the tyres as efficient.

“I don’t know exactly what went wrong, but if you look at pure engine power, it looks good. Of course, that will only be better in our car.”

In terms of the relationship with Toro Rosso, effectively Red Bull‘s guinea pig this season, he says: “In the current situation you are always the second team, after the factory team. This, of course, is not the case with Honda. We are actually the only customer, since both are Red Bull teams. I think that is an advantage. If there is engine update, you receive it immediately and not a race later.”

Asked where he believes the partnership with Honda will succeed where that with McLaren didn’t he says: “By telling Honda that they need to develop the best and fastest engine, but not as small and compact as possible.

“We indicate that we want as much power as possible and in return we will make it fit in the car. That is a very different approach than they had at McLaren.”

Finally, asked about the strengths and weaknesses of the RB14, he replies: “I think the car in general is really strong.

“This year you could see at street circuits, where the engine power is not that important, that our car was really strong, especially in Monaco.

“As for next year, it is hard to say, because we get that new front wing. It affects the entire car in terms of downforce, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

The RB14 has particularly struggled in the wet.

“There are reasons why the car is harder to adjust in the rain this year,” he responds. “I can’t say too much about that, but we know what the problem is and we should try to do better next year.”