Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018

Verstappen doubts Red Bull-Honda will be title contenders in 2019

2018 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Max Verstappen says Honda’s approach to Formula 1 is “much more serious” but doubts they’ll be championship contenders with Red Bull in 2019.

Asked whether he expects to be a title contender next year, Verstappen told his media partner Ziggo Sport: “Everyone wants that, but in Formula 1 that’s a tricky thing.

“At first we will need to take some more steps, but hopefully at the end we will be close. The year after, we should be out in full force.”

Verstappen, who visited the Honda factory last year, said he was impressed by the improvements they have made since returning to F1 in 2015.

“Looking at where they came from the last couple of years, they have advanced considerably. You very rarely see something get broken.

“The most important thing is that they want to take things to the limit. They have the means, which is very important if you want to take on the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes.

“All in all, Honda is a much more serious candidate. They have already been on the test rig and want a lot of gearboxes from us to prepare themselves for the coming year. They are enormously driven and want to do thousands of miles on the test rig.”

Daniel Ricciardo’s move to Renault shocked Red Bull, according to Verstappen. “The whole team was surprised especially that he would be going to Renault,” he said/

“If you move to Ferrari or Mercedes, a team would understand that. But even Christian Horner said it himself that he thought that he was making a joke, so that says it all.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

61 comments on “Verstappen doubts Red Bull-Honda will be title contenders in 2019”

  1. Funny that, Daniel agrees.
    And he thinks Red Bull won’t have a sniff in 2020 either…

    1. It’s fair to say that Red bull might have a shot in 2021 if they either get a different engine supplier.. Or if by some miracle.. Honda get the new engine formula right.

      All of this is assuming that the engine formula changes for 2021. Recent speculation shows that we might have the existing formula up until 2023.

      Verstappen is on for 2 seasons of damage limitation. Luckily for Red bull, Mclaren seem to be in a mess and Renault isn’t making enough progress, so P3 in the constructors should still be easy.

      1. @todfod If we look at the development curve of Honda since the split with McLaren and the lack of progress by Renault, it indicates 2019 will see Honda step past Renault, unless the team in Viry are by a miracle able to finally get on top of PU design. I would also not be surprised if Honda are throwing more money and resource at development than Renault. 2019 Renault PU will be fourth fastest.

        1. @ju88sy

          You’re right.. Honda are throwing more money on their engine development program than Renault, and they have been right from the start. There is a chance that they could overtake Renault next season if Renault provides more uninspiring updates.
          However, I also think that Honda was as close to Renault in terms of performance and reliability in 2016 as they are in 2018, and Honda bombed in 2017. It’s questionable whether they will make progress or crumble under Red bulls pressure again… But if we’re just basing it on ‘steady progress’ as per Max’s quote, there hasn’t really been any steady progress since 2015. There has been 1 step forward and 2 step backwards with Honda so far.
          I’m sure Max is trying to talk positively about the relationship, but they’re still the most unreliable engine and still lowest in performance.

          1. TodFod
            You missed the article where Marcus Ericsson stated he was very impressed how Torro Rosso easily overtook him (Heartly) or kept in front of him (Gasly) in Spa last Sunday. Remember Sauber has a Ferrari engine.

          2. Not a chance that we will see that. Renault engine is far better than Honda, and also next year they will open the gap more, because they will get better drivers at Renault that will develop engine and cars like they should. While Honda will have worst drivers even with the bloodsucker retirement.

          3. @todfod True, it just seems that Renault have managed to fail to close the gap more times so far than Honda, five seasons in a row so far, if Honda can manage 2/5 they will be past Renault. It also seems as though Red Bull are not mandating the same constraints on PU design (cough *size zero* – I do miss Ron!), hopefully in this new partnership and with three seasons of learning behind them they can add some strong gains over the winter……or maybe not as you say!

          4. George apos, there is the caveat of how much downforce the two teams were running relative to each other, as the relative drag of each car would have a noticeable impact.

            The Sauber’s hadn’t been especially quick when in free air down the straights, suggesting they were running a comparatively high downforce setting – photographs from the race also seem to point towards Ericsson’s car having a higher wing angle and larger plan area than Toro Rosso’s cars did, so at least some of that difference might well be down to Toro Rosso using lower downforce settings than Sauber did.

            It also has to be said that the effect of DRS was rather significant at this race – we saw how some other drivers blasted past their rivals down the Kemmel straight, including a number of instances with Renault powered drivers overtaking drivers in cars with ostensibly much more powerful Ferrari and Mercedes engines (Ricciardo and Sainz recorded some of the highest maximum speeds down the Kemmel straight).

            There were some commentators who suggested that Ericsson also made a pretty big mistake by overtaking Hartley before La Source, since that allowed him to then get DRS for the Kemmel straight – most other drivers deliberately avoided doing that because DRS was so overly effective that there was the risk of the other driver overtaking you again, which is exactly what happened with Hartley and Ericsson.

          5. Not entirely true. Honda had a “version 1.0” (if you like) of their PU when they first entered in 2015, designed and built within McLaren’s “size zero” constraints. When “size zero” was abandoned with the FIA’s development token system, Honda were free to design a PU to their liking, for the 2017 season. This is only their second year with their “version 2.0” PU, and it’s only to be expected that it’s more reliable than it’s first year of running, similar to the better reliability and performance in 2016, the second year of their first gen PU.

            The telling problem is Renault are on their 5th year of evolution of their PU, and Honda has arguably already caught up in performance, and bettering Renault at reliability.

        2. The curve of using all engine components by before half of the season?

          Honda have shown nothing positive, same kind of lucky finishing positions they had with McLaren had a few times.

          Honda may be throwing a lot of money into it but that isn’t the key.

          1. Mclaren is a very good example, they really improved with Renault lol. I rather put my money on Honda.

      2. The 2021 engine rules look like they won’t happen in 2021. There have been talk about postponing then engine rule change because nobody is interested to join f1 as engine manufacturer. Could be 2022, 2023 or 2024 before we get anything different.

    2. “At first we will need to take some more steps, but hopefully at the end we will be close. The year after, we should be out in full force.”

      Already sounds like the expectations McLaren had before their first season back with Honda …

  2. Everything but Mercedes or Ferrari is a leap of faith..

    1. But I’d still rather sign for Red Bull than Renault

      1. We will see that how develops. Redbull will have 2 unenexperienced drivers in developing cars, and Renault will have 2 top drivers in development and racing. Will see how this develops, but its obvious that RedBull will go down from its current position, and Renault will go up from its current position. Not need to be a genious to predict that. Everybody knew that when Hamilton abandoned McLaren, that team will go down various levels (which happened ofc), and that Mercedes will go up some levels (which happened too). And now we all know what will happen to RedBull, and that Verstappen when he sees the down spiral will contact the top teams to leave RedBull. So will see how the things develop, but its easy to predict that.

        1. and Renault will go up from its current position. Not need to be a genious to predict that.

          .. well.. The position Renault currently has is a very lucky streak. They should be below Haas if things worked out for that team. And the financial situation of FI is the reason they were not on speed in the start.
          For the moment the renault team and the McLaren team occupy positions they do not deserve by pure performance, but by shear luck. (or unlucky opponents)
          And the season is not over yet.. look at the abysmal performance of Ren/Sainz in Spa.

          1. Indeed, very dubious whether renault will improve and red bull get worse, however red bull could afford the gamble, they will have a hard time catching ferrari and mercedes but also a hard time falling down to 4th place.

  3. But he will have the best sounding PU in the back.

    1. @coldfly
      For sure.. at least for a few laps ;)

      1. Luckily Renault is known for its reliability.
        From Verstappens point of view it can get any worse.

  4. Daniel got a glimpse of what its like to drive a Renault in Spa. I hope he liked it.

    1. Don’t think I understand: ricciardo was unlapping himself just as fast as bottas was overtaking other cars, including the only remaining renault, there was no comparison between ricciardo’s and sainz’s speed, the only problem is he had 2 laps to recover and spa only had 44 laps.

  5. Pretty easy to understand Dan’s move regardless of how shocked people are.
    Even Max says they have no chance next year and I think everyone thinks that 2020 will be a stretch too.
    Dan wants to win a WDC so given that RBR isn’t realistically thinking of getting there next year why not go to a team that has full manufacturer backing and has been improving. (The other 2 are closed for now)
    From his point of view I don’t think he cares if he’s 3rd or 7th – its not a win and that’s what he wants – Renault shares that goal and being with a new team might just increase his enthusiasm and enjoyment a bit. From what I’ve seen of his body language this year, I’d say Dan needed a move to revitalise his F1 life a bit.

    1. Agreed.

      Also people seem to not understand that Renault are putting only enough effort into 2018 to get 4th and are putting most of their efforts into the 2019 car.

    2. Replace Red Bull by Ferrari, Renault by McLaren and Ricciardo by Alonso to see how a “I don’t care if I finish third or seventh” mentality turned out last time

      1. Yes, why doesn’t he go to williams as he’s at it?

  6. Looking at where they came from the last couple of years, they have advanced considerably. You very rarely see something get broken.

    Maybe someone hasn’t shown him the components used table this year… Or of last year.. Or of 2015.

    I’m sure he’s trying to speak positively about the partnership.. But come on.. There’s no need for that degree of fiction.

    1. This year they only had a problem in Australia, all the other issues were on Friday practice sessions or heavy crashes that damaged some components and since Toro Rosso are practically a test team this year, they remove everything and put nem power units on. And most likely next year the power unit will be more powerful and more reliable, that’s the 3rd year of this concept Honda is working, and they are doing what they want not what is dictated to them like McLaren did, and the difference is in plain sight.
      They won’t catch Ferrari or Merc, but I think Renault is gonna be left behind next year

      1. I think it’s regardless of whether they have their issues on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays. At the end of the day, the components used table tells us the truth.

        I agree that Toro Rosso has been used as a test bench.. But that’s what flatters Honda’s performance. Tost openly admitted that they designed the chassis to make packaging and cooling easier for Hondas power units. Red bull won’t give Honda the same amount of freedom. Red bull constantly push the boundaries on packaging and cooling, which is why they have the worst reliability of all the Renault customers. I’ll expect them to do the same with Honda and that’s when we’ll see how much progress Honda has actually made.

        1. Red bull won’t give Honda the same amount of freedom

          That;s not according to Marko.
          Honda builds a top engine and RBR build the right chassis around it.
          Your vision on Honda seems a bit distorted. I can understand that looking at the McL zero concept days.. but for now Honda seems to develop way faster then Renault.

          1. Erikje, that might be what Marko says, but it is Newey who is the one who designs his cars and Newey who has a history going back decades of producing very aggressively packaged cars that have run somewhat marginal on engine cooling.

            Just ask Mercedes about the problems Newey caused for them in the early 2000s with aggressive packaging, despite the fact that they’d been insisting that he had to provide them with additional cooling. Similarly, part of the reason why Newey was especially keen on the Renault V8 was the fact that it had the lowest cooling demands of all of the available engines at the time, which was why he was able to so aggressively package the car during that era.

            They are also known to have ordered changes to components during that era too, which did include changes to components that were intended to minimise cooling requirements even if it did carry an increased risk of component failures. One example would be their decision to design a bespoke air cooled alternator for the Renault V8 engines they used in the past, rather than the water cooled system that most Renault teams used, because they were prepared to take the risk of the alternator overheating in order to cut down on the amount of cooling required – and, in that case, there was an indication that inadequate cooling may have contributed to Vettel’s failure during the 2012 European GP.

            Therefore, although Marko might have made those claims, unless he has chosen to override Newey and his design team and instructed them to be very conservative on the cooling systems, the past design history of Newey and his design team, and decisions that Red Bull have made in the past, all consistently point towards the complete opposite of what Marko is saying they will do.

  7. Well, at Spa, a power circuit, the only Renault cars ahead of Honda cars were the Red Bulls. I would not be surprised if in the engine stakes, Honda are now ahead of Renault (and only improving). Regardless, he’s most likely right that the first-year Red Bull-Honda won’t win a championship. But then, neither would they with Renault. You have to take chances to win.

    1. Exactly, agree, as a power circuit it was pretty bad of renault to not be able to beat gasly, obviously red bull is on another planet due to their chassis, and they can afford to take the gamble with honda, cause with renault they weren’t getting decisive steps, as in they’ve been competitive from the start in 2018, unlike 2017, but you see in tracks like silverstone that they simply couldn’t attempt anything on ferrari and mercedes, they could just keep up.

      They have such a margin on the other teams that they should be able to keep being the 3rd team no matter what, and if it goes right, they might finally be competitive in power tracks.

    2. Exactly. What MV is saying would also apply to Renault — Red Bull wouldn’t be able to win the championship next year with Renault either. He’s just being realistic; nothing wrong with that.

  8. I didn’t know Ziggo Sport the channel that coverages F1 in the Netherlands is his so-called ‘media partner’ as well. BTW, how exactly is ‘media partner’ defined. I’ve never read or heard about this term being used, LOL.

    1. @jerejj He signed a three-year deal with them at the beginning of this year giving them special access to him to do extra interviews and stuff like that.

  9. With a new engine RBR needs to make a new chassis. Meaning they are starting from scratch while all other teams can just evolve their current chassis. RBR will be at least two years behind the rest.

    I will not be surprised if Renault and Racing Point Force India F1 will be on parr with them.

    Only in 2021 with the new rules will all teams be back on equal level. (If engine rules will also change in 2021)

    1. If a PU change is such a negative thing, how do you explain Toro Rosso being in the same place in the standings as last year?

      1. I think your playing with figures, as force India has lost all of their points due to the change in ownership. Otherwise they would be infront of Toro Rosso making TR 8th this yr 1 place below 2017.
        Also marcelh did not say negative that was your choice of words. He said TR was starting from scratch, that’s not the same at all.

        1. STR achieved 53 points last year and so far this year have 30 with 8 races to go. I would say they haven’t lost or gained much from last year.

          RBR might be starting from scratch, but they do have STR data to go by, and they do have Newey, so I’m certainly not convinced this will be a negative by two years for RBR. If they can come out of the box and still retain third in the WCC, I think that will be a bonus for them, even if they will be hard pressed to win races initially. A clean slate might just be what the doctor ordered for Newey.

          1. Well look at what the cars looked like 2 3 years ago and there performance, and look at how they look now and the current performance. If you think that RBR can go back 2 3 years in development and become WC fighting with cars that go in to their 4th year then… well… everybody is entitled to there opinion…

            Mine is Merc or Fer until 2021 and RBR Force india and peugeot for third..

          2. Yes but if Force India had not lost their points where would TR stand in the WCC?
            They would be 8th not 7th, that would put then one place down on last yr.
            What I’m saying is TR gained an extra place under extraordinary circumstances.

    2. RBR has trouble with Renault mguK Too. They Must Change the oder of some Thing in the chassis that all of the new fit.

    3. Im going with Renault to win a championship before Red Bull does.

  10. This all sounds very nice…I believe Mclaren were said similar things in the past and look how that ended up.

    The one thing you be assured off, if you thought Alonso was harsh with his Honda comments, wait till this mob gets going.

    1. I remember McLaren being really patient with Honda in 2015 and most of 2016. It was only during the preseason testing of 2017 where the real breakdown in the relationship started occurring, and then spiralled downwards till Honda was dumped.

      With Red Bull, I don’t expect them to show any patience with Honda. I’d expect them to be patient till Spain’19, and if by the mid point in the season they still haven’t hit their targets, I expect relationships to get strained. If Honda are still rubbish by the end of the year, we’ll see Marko, Horner and Verstappen only criticising Honda and putting pressure on the FIA for a new engine supplier.

      1. @todfod I’ve pretty much agreed with what you have said on this topic in your posts above, but I don’t think I can agree with you on RBR’s level of patience with Honda. I think they’ll be full of patience through 2019, as that is only year one of the project, and a big learning curve. They see first hand where Honda is, and you have pointed out their unreliability too, so I don’t think RBR is expecting so much next year that they will get impatient. All they know for sure is that they weren’t going to win with Renault anyway, so they have little to complain about if they still don’t win next year. As long as they have reasonable signs of progress together as a team, I think RBR will have an interesting and exciting season next year.

        We’ll just have to wait and see what the 2019 Honda in a 2019 Newey RBR can do. Surely we can’t compare too much to the McHonda experience because now Honda have learned a great deal, and they’ve already been working in the Red Bull camp this year, so as Newey sits at his drawing board, likely as we speak, he has a lot more to work with than Mac did initially.

      2. Maybe you’r right. But the Renault deal and the way they do not seem to be able to develop a engine that lasts multiple races on speed for several years on a row. Does it sound a bit like Honda?
        Yes it does..
        Renault has to develop a mediocre car and a lousy engine. They do not seem to be able to do both.
        RBR develops the chassis
        Honda develops the Engine. Two specialists with big pockets..

      3. Everything is quite different now compared to 2015 and the engine philosophy is also quite different, Honda returned really unprepared, they wanted 1 more year to test but McLaren refused, they built the engine around a concept that McLaren wanted, that was found to be the wrong approach (size zero concept) they reach the maximum potential of that engine concept in 2016. For 2017 they built a completely new engine, that was what they wanted to build, same concept has Mercedes, communication between Honda and McLaren was so bad that they only found out about McLaren switching fuel partners when they got to the fist test in 2017, that’s something amazingly bad at this level. It’s quite clear that McLaren wanted out of the 10 year contract, and did what they could to terminate it, the problem is that they never imagined that the change to Renault would be this bad.
        Red Bull are not stupid, and they now now that what McLaren went through, only made Honda invest more and get the outside help that they needed.
        People expecting red bull to fall behind Renault next year are delusional, Renault this year was expecting to be fighting for podiums, but they made no progress this year relative to the top 3, they are exactly the same place they were last year, only difference is force India are worst and Williams way worst

  11. RBR are a poisoned chalice for a customer, look at what they said and did publicly with Renault. If Honda do not provide a race winning engine then RBR will throw them to the wolves.

    Honda *might* produce a better engine next year but given their history, this seems unlikely to be a race winning engine and every other engine supplier will be improving their engines too so Honda really have to pull something special out of the bag next year.

    What will probably happen, based on the data of Honda´s power unit history is that RBR will drop down the table, loose money, collapse in on itself like Maclaren, loose their sponsors and drivers and then loose their engineering staff to other teams before finally pulling out of F1, triggering a crisis as two teams leave at the same time.

    Honda have had long enough to fix their engine. That they have still not got it to work well enough proves that they do not know how to make it a race winning engine. If they did then they would have sorted it out by now.

    It´s a gamble by RBR and one that I doubt will pay off but if I am wrong, I´ll be the first to congratulate them.

    1. Way overly dramatic. Let’s not forget RBR won 4 Championships with Renault. The relationship only went sour when Renault failed to keep up with the competition once the new hybrid era hit. RBR knows there aren’t a ton of options, and now they have Honda so it is a new chapter for them. They’ll be stoked, because they already knew what they were in for with Renault. Now it is like a clean slate, and in spite of small odds of doing better than they did with Renault, at least it is hope. It was obviously time for a change.

  12. Talking about redbull and Ferrari remember Ferrari had their last constructors championship in 2008 and driver championship in 2007. So if they win one of these titels this year it still took them 10 years as a factory team.

    1. Yes, and ferrari is the one team who was reliably always competitive, even in their worst years, they were scoring podiums in the seasons schumacher was winning at benetton for example.

      What this means is I trust renault to get a good car out even less.

      1. It is no criticism of Ferrari it is just an example how difficult it is to be and stay the best. Let us wait and if we’re lucky we have a more competative F1.

  13. Unless your in a Ferrari or Mercedes, forget it.

  14. I think it’s pretty obvious that most of the people saying that RB are going to keep up with or even out perform (lol) Renault next yr are Verstappen fans. Hoping like hell he is not fighting it out with the Williams boys for scraps.
    If you look at the history of the two makes, Renault have had a better record of supplying winning engines by a fair amount. RB have a brilliant chassis and remember it was a Renault powered RB that gave Vettel his WDCs.
    Yes things have changed a bit and tech has moved on since then. But if we are going to compare race history of a winning PCU to predict who will have the best chance of a WDC over the next couple of yrs. Then Renault would be the clear favourite, as they have the better record.
    As I have said before RB have a problems, it’s going to be interesting to see how they cope with them.

    1. Looking at the spec-c engine of Renault I’m not so sure that Renault will have the better engine. RB said that the spec-b engine is equal or very near equal to the Honda unit in terms of HP. So if we don’t count the size-0 package Honda has managed to get the same HP (and some say better drivability and reliability) in two years of development as Renault did in 5.

      I think everyone will agree that the Renault motor will not be on the same level as Ferrari in next year and their chassis will not be anything near RBs level so even if they manage to have10HP+ more than Honda, the car will simply not be faster than RB. Riccardo is slightly slower than Verstappen but makes less mistakes, we don’t know how he will perform against the Hulk. But they will be the more stable and experienced driver pair. So unless RB designs a car that is one second per lap slower than they have now or Verstappen and Gasly will crach every race I don’t see any reason to think that Renault will top RB next year. The reason Riccardo went to Renault is simply change of scenery and lots of money

      1. The reason Riccardo went to Renault is simply change of scenery and lots of money

        Not quite :)
        As for Verstappen yes he is bloody quick….but so was his father. In fact Jos (the Boss) Verstappen was approached by many of the top teams. But he never was really able to fulfill his initial potential.
        And a bit of trivia he also raced for Honda, they let him go.
        But hey lets see how it goes in 2019, I’m happy to say I think Renault will perform better then RB and will finish in front.

        1. @johnrkh I think certainly Renault has an advantage on paper in that they will just be continuing to evolve their existing package as opposed to RBR, who will be starting a brand new relationship with Honda. A brand new learning curve. I think we’re just going to have to see it when we see it. Both Renault and Honda are having their reliability issues right now, including not being able to really crank their pu’s for any kind of near top level performance without breaking something. So they both have a long way to go. I think it is quite safe to say neither team will be vying for the Championships so they will both be using 2019 to continue to grow and learn.

Comments are closed.