Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is very impressed with Honda’s improvements and expects them to put Red Bull in the title conversation.
The speed trap also made great reading for Honda, and with their power issues now seemingly under control, Wolff believes his team are dealing with a “different Red Bull” in 2019.
“Honda has certainly made a huge step forward,” the hold the official F1 website.
“If you look at the speed trace it looks a very different Red Bull than before.
“They are very fast on the straights and that is good to see because we want them in the mix and to have a great fight.
“I’m really happy for Honda. It’s their first podium since their return [to F1 in 2015] and they deserve it. They went through some really tough times. Seeing the Honda on the podium and seeing how happy the guys are is great.”
Verstappen put the Red Bull’s power on full show as he caught and quickly overtook Sebastian Vettel into turn 3 at Albert Park, a move which caught Wolff’s attention.
“They were very strong,” he explained.
“You saw how they have eaten up Sebastian into Turn 3, the power was enormous.
“The combination with Red Bull will become a threat. Based on the level of performance, you must certainly have them in the calculation for the championship.”
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) March 18, 2019
The Scuderia have introduced a completely different front wing design to Mercedes for 2019, one which focuses on better management of airflow around the front tyres, compared to Mercedes’ high-downforce approach.
And despite Ferrari’s struggles in Melbourne, Wolff remains open-minded on altering their design if it proves to be more effective.
“I think you need to evaluate all the various philosophies that are out there,” Wolff told Motorsport.com.
“You must stay open-minded and humble about your own way. But, at the same time, you must follow what you think is right and don’t let yourselves be confused.
“We just look at the various concepts and continued to stick to our philosophy. But you might see different aero parts throughout the season at different tracks.”