Max Verstappen hopes Red Bull’s fuel upgrade at the Japanese Grand Prix will deliver a greater boost than any engine upgrade that Honda can produce.
Red Bull chief Dr Helmut Marko has targeted victory in Suzuka to repay Honda after the Japanese marque’s first year as engine supplier to them.
Verstappen has been on the podium in Japan in each of the last three years and will be further boosted by a new ExxonMobil fuel this weekend in Suzuka, with Honda having delivered updates in recent weeks to put the team in the best position possible.
And Verstappen sees big reasons for optimism as a result.
“Over the years, fuel updates have always resulted in the biggest gains,” Verstappen told his official website.
“So we’re expecting quite a bit from it. I don’t think the others will bring updates on that front.”
With Honda desperate to secure points in its home race for the first time since returning to F1, the trip to Suzuka could have a big bearing on the success of Red Bull’s season.
Asked what he would need to be satisfied with 2019, Verstappen added: “If we’ve been more competitive and have been able to fight for wins more often.”
Having raced alongside Daniel Ricciardo previously this year has seen a distinct shift in Verstappen’s role inside Red Bull as he has taken on clear senior status.
The Dutchman confirmed that his precedence may have started to rub off on the future direction of the team.
“The team listens more to my input, but I think that’s normal if I’m paired with kind off a rookie,” he said.
“On my side of the garage, not much has changed. I always gave feedback about how I wanted the car. Now it’s maybe a bit more one-sided, before it was Daniel and me together.”