Verstappen tipped to rival Hamilton, Vettel in 2019
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is banking on Honda to deliver in 2019 and put Max Verstappen in position to challenge the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel for Formula 1 glory. Verstappen proved his race-winning talent by dominating the Mexican Grand Prix – but it was just his fifth race win since moving to Red Bull in 2016.
Both Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo have been hamstrung in the V6 Hybrid era by Renault's inability to match the power and reliability of both Ferrari and Mercedes.
When power units have not been decisive, at tracks like Monaco, Singapore and Mexico, the Bulls have often come to life and Verstappen's victory at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was his second on the spin there.
With Red Bull taking the plunge with the Japanese marque next year, Horner is certain that Verstappen has the ability to rival F1's dominant forces, as long as he has a strong enough car underneath him.
He said: "You've seen [in Mexico] if we've had an engine that is anywhere near the ballpark of our opponents, then we've got a strong enough team and strong enough driver package to take the fight to them.
"We're obviously hopeful that the Honda, with the progress they're making, will put us into a situation where we're more regularly able to compete.
"We are here with the optimum downforce on the car, the optimum setting on the car.
"[Verstappen] went through a tough path at the beginning of the year.
"But really, since Montreal, he's been doing some incredible races and I think with experience that was really the only missing piece.
"All drivers make mistakes, you see that up and down the paddock. It's what you learn from them.
"He has an awful load of capacity in the car. I think he's got a very good racing brain as well.
"So he's wanting to understand what's going on in the rest of the race to match his pace accordingly."
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