Max Verstappen says that while Ferrari were “a bit ahead” of Honda with the engine, he’s eager to see where the balance of power now lies.
2019 marked the first year of Red Bull’s relationship with Honda as they powered Verstappen to three race wins and P3 in the Drivers’ Championship.
But despite some questions over its legality, Ferrari’s power unit was seen as the gold standard last year.
That being said, Verstappen says Honda have made some “really good steps” over the winter, and he is excited to see where they now stand against the Scuderia for engine performance.
“I was really excited to start working together, and I haven’t been disappointed. I really enjoy it,” he told Motorsport.com.
“They’re very focused and I think the steps they made throughout the season were very good. Of course as a driver you always want more, but they’re the same: they always want more.
“And I think towards the end of the year, it looked very competitive. I think we were pretty close to Mercedes, as you can see, Brazil for example, the drag race between Pierre [Gasly] and Lewis [Hamilton].
“With Ferrari, I don’t know. I think there’s still a bit ahead of us. But I think throughout the winter now, [Honda] made some really good steps.
“We’ll find out what the others have done, because they will also improve, and I hope we made bigger steps than them.”
And Red Bull principal Christian Horner confirmed that Honda seem “quite happy” with their progress over the winter.
“They look quite happy. The engine made constant progress throughout last year. This latest engine is the next step in that evolution,” he explained.
“They’ve done plenty of mileage on their dynos. We’ve obviously been working very closely with them and the integration of the engine into the chassis.
“They share that motivation and desire of competitiveness and to really build on the three wins that they achieved last year, and all the other stuff that came with it.
“They’re very, very focused on making that next step. The turnaround that they’ve achieved has been phenomenal, when you consider where they were five years ago to where they are now. That’s hugely impressive.”