Max Verstappen: New Honda F1 engine not "massive" power boost

Adam Cooper
Autosport
Verstappen: New Honda won't be
Verstappen: New Honda won't be

Max Verstappen believes Honda's new Formula 1 engine for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be more of a reliability boost for Red Bull than a performance enhancement.

Honda has brought an upgrade to the fourth race of the 2019 F1 season in Baku, in part as a response to an issue suffered by Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat in China.

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"It's mainly just about reliability and reliability of the engine, so I guess it will be a little bit better in terms of performance but like nothing massive," said Verstappen.

"It can always be better. That's why they push for an even better engine concept.

"I'm happy that they did it because hopefully we can run that engine a little bit longer compared to the first one, which we can still use."

Although the older spec power units are still usable, especially for Friday running, the early change means that all the Honda users are destined to take penalties well before the end of the season.

Verstappen, who is well used to taking penalty hits from Red Bull's Renault days, backed Honda's strategy.

"Actually I'm really happy because they keep pushing really hard to bring updates and that's always good," he said.

"I showed last year than even when you start in the back you can still finish on the podium, for example like in Austin, so I don't think it a major problem.

"I'm happier if we can say at the end of the season that we really closed the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari in terms of power because we used a few more engines. It's fine."

Verstappen: New Honda won't be
Verstappen: New Honda won't be

Asked about the comparison with Honda's main rivals, Verstappen said the engine gap to Mercedes had closed but that Ferrari was comfortably ahead.

"Compared to Mercedes, yes [Honda has closed the gap]," he replied, "but compared to Ferrari it's big, but that's for everyone. It's really big.

"It just seems they did a really good job with something, so you just have to work harder to try to close that gap.

"I think we are closer to Mercedes, but it's always difficult to really say if it's better, because everybody is always improving.

"For our side at the moment is that we are able to maximise the result all the time, which has been a third and twice fourth, without retiring, so that is sometimes more important than maybe gaining a tenth but then breaking down all the time.

"I think in the race in general we are a bit more competitive so again, in qualifying it's mainly just Ferrari that stands out - like, it's massive."

Verstappen's team-mate Pierre Gasly was also supportive of Honda bringing in an upgrade before any of its rivals.

"We all have different development plans," said Gasly.

"What we know is Honda is working really hard. We're all happy with the progress they are doing. We know we will get some more upgrades through the season.

"The team strategy is the best thing to do is to change the engine now and we'll get another upgrade later in the season, but probably a different plan to the other teams."


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