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Verstappen: Red Bull on par with Mercedes, Ferrari pace with Honda

Verstappen: Red Bull on par with Mercedes, Ferrari pace with Honda

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Verstappen: Red Bull on par with Mercedes, Ferrari pace with Honda

Verstappen: Red Bull on par with Mercedes, Ferrari pace with Honda

Max Verstappen says Red Bull now possess pace comparable to Mercedes and Ferrari, having swapped Renault for Honda. The Dutchman overtook Sebastian Vettel for third place at the Australian Grand Prix, before pushing second-placed Lewis Hamilton close to the finish line in Melbourne.

Verstappen split the Ferraris of Vettel and Charles Leclerc to qualify fourth at Albert Park, before going on to secure Honda's first podium since Silverstone 2008 on race day.

Much has been made of Red Bull's switch to the Japanese marque, but Verstappen's performance appeared to make good on pre-season claims that the team now have a potent power unit to match their excellence on the chassis side.

Although Hamilton's Silver Arrow ultimately proved too quick around Melbourne's tight street circuit, Verstappen was at least enthused to be in the fight with the dominant front-runners.

"In terms of speed we had throughout the race, it was again a very good step forward to last year," Verstappen said.

"If I just compare top speeds against the other two top teams, I'm very pleased for that.

"Also, in general, the engine has been performing really well, without any issues. So, that is also very important. I guess time will tell if we can fight for top spot.

"You always have to manage the tyres because as soon as you get close to the car ahead they overheat, the tyres.

"In general, just very pleased, because I could at least have a go at it, in terms of top speed.

"Good progress, and there are a lot of positive things coming as well, and so far we have been working really well together. Very pleased with that.

"I think Valtteri was very far ahead still. It was a good result today, but we have to work hard to, of course, improve."

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