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Mercedes believe Red Bull-Honda in title contention

Mercedes believe Red Bull-Honda in title contention

F1 News

Mercedes believe Red Bull-Honda in title contention

Mercedes believe Red Bull-Honda in title contention

Toto Wolff believes Red Bull's switch to Honda power can put them into title contention in 2019 after Max Verstappen's third-place finish in the Australian Grand Prix. Verstappen split Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc in Melbourne qualifying, before overtaking Vettel in the race to secure a podium.

Verstappen's result was Honda's best since returning to Formula 1 in 2015 and the Japanese marque's first podium since the 2008 British Grand Prix.

Red Bull dropped out of genuine title contention in the Hybrid V6 era dominated by Mercedes, as Renault struggled to keep pace with the Silver Arrows and Ferrari.

Although Honda too were off the pace for several years, Wolff sees signs from the opening race of the season that suggests things have changed.

"We saw how they've eaten up Sebastian into Turn 3," Wolff said of Verstappen's overtake on the Ferrari man for third place.

"Power was enormous, and seeing them come back strong makes me happy because it's a good group of people and they're really decent men.

"The combination with Red Bull will certainly become a threat. The level of performance is such that you must certainly have them in the calculation for the championship."

Honda spent three years enduring a fractious relationship with McLaren after returning to F1, but spent last year rebuilding their reputation and confidence with Toro Rosso, precipitating the ultimate partnership with Red Bull.

"It's the first podium since their return and they deserve it," Wolff added.

"They went through some really tough times and seeing the Honda on the podium and seeing the happy guys is great."

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