Verstappen: Honda now very close to Mercedes

Max Verstappen believes Honda’s development through the 2019 Formula 1 season has put the Japanese manufacturer within touching distance of matching Mercedes‘ output.

The Mercedes power unit has long been the benchmark in F1, although Ferrari appeared to move ahead in 2019.

That did not stop another year of Mercedes success, however, as the Silver Arrows’ greater aerodynamic concept won through, with Verstappen also winning the same number of races as Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc combined.

Honda’s relationship with Red Bull has been far more harmonious than their previous tie-up with McLaren and Verstappen paid tribute to the team in Sakura for the improvements they have made across the year.

“We are very close to Mercedes,” said Verstappen. “[Honda] have been working flat-out and the improvement we have made with the last two [engine upgrades] was a big one.

“What I think is very positive is that we had a target throughout the year and we have always been at the same level or above the target, which we’ve never had before. So that’s a good thing.

“[Honda] have always been very honest in what we would get, and sometimes we would even be a little bit better – which of course is even better!”

Verstappen’s request from Honda for 2020 is quite simple.

“More power! The reliability has been really good this year, we’ve never retired because of a problem from their side,” he told Autocar. “So for them, I think this season has been a breakthrough.

“Of course we had some victories already; they were really happy with that, I think it was a big boost for the whole company, and they’re very motivated.”