Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 2019

Verstappen thrilled by “very positive” first tests with Honda

2019 F1 season

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Max Verstappen said his first tests with Honda left him with a very positive impression of the power unit and the team behind it.

Speaking at a Honda season launch event in Japan, Verstappen said he had been “very positively surprised” by the RA619H power unit.

Verstappen was frustrated by the driving characteristics of his Renault power unit in 2018 but said he is happier with the feeling he gets from the Honda.

“I think for me what was the most important is to just feel the new engine,” said Verstappen. “It’s a completely different power unit so I just wanted to get used to drive-ability, I wanted to understand down-shifting, all these kind of things.

“And I was very positively surprised, it was all feeling very good. We didn’t really have to change a lot around it to make it really drive-able and nice. So that was a big positive.

“I was also surprised with the reliability because we did a lot of laps and we basically never really got stopped by any issues. That’s of course what you want in testing. So very impressive first few weeks.”

Verstappen said he is equally pleased by the relationship the team has with its new power unit supplier.

“I think also working together with the Honda engineers was really nice and pleasant because they knew exactly what I was talking about. We really understood each other, the communication felt very easy going.

“That is very important for the season ahead, especially in critical conditions in the race when you don’t have a lot of time to decided I think we already understand each other very well. That’s why I think also those first few weeks they are very important to get to know each other a lot more and feel and understand each other and the way you are working. So a very positive two weeks.”

Pictures: Red Bull drivers visit Honda

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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...

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16 comments on “Verstappen thrilled by “very positive” first tests with Honda”

  1. Ok. So Honda characteristic is more suitable to Max as Renault to Daniel. It’s all good.

  2. A stuttering engine cost him a possible pole in both Singapore and Mexcio…. Singapore showed Renault’s poor drivability best. On board camera’s showed Verstappens car going from 1st gear to neutral back to 1st gear again… during VSC, during the pistop and it also led to a poor third sector in Q3.

    1. Matn, I would say that, if the gearbox was switching between selecting first gear and neutral, that makes it sound more like a gearbox mapping issue instead.

      Interestingly Tanabe, in the Japanese press, has indicated that Honda have had a few issues with Red Bull’s gearbox when they undertook a full powertrain and transmission dyno test. Whilst there might have been drivability issues, given that Red Bull did seem to have a few problems with their transmission system last season, I do wonder if perhaps Red Bull were using that to downplay a few possible issues on their part as well.

      1. The gearbox and engine mapping are very closely intertwined. If one doesnt work the problems could very well show itself in the other part and vice versa.

        1. Then isn’t that a software issue, which is at least partly the responsibility of Red Bull. I guess the next question is who writes the engine driving part of the software? My guess is Red Bull do most of the driving part of the engine software because they have to do the gearbox. If Red Bull had gone for a Honda gearbox then that area would become Honda’s responsibility.

          1. @drycrust
            Well that is just a matter of view. A smoother engine would need less intricate mapping so whos really at fault when the end result is bad?

    2. @Matn And his unideal acceleration phase into T1 following the start in Abu Dhabi presumably was down to this particular weird glitch as well.

    3. most of RB issues were their own gremlins…

      if engine not delivering enough power, you see that already a honda issue, but engine running vs complete electric control shutdown and gearbox acting weird majority of the time or hydraulic failures were all RB issues! yet they always blamed renault shamelessly!

  3. Marko is saying the team are title contenders.

    It’s very exciting.

    1. Despite all the optimism from Red Bull and Toro Rosso, I still think it is too early to be making bold predictions. Especially as the Red Bull car’s fastest pre-season lap time wasn’t in the top ten.

      1. @drycrust I know, but Marko isn’t one for the hype train or wild claims. If he thinks they are close I believe it. The lack of testing speed could be due to Honda running conservative due to too tight packaging as they’ve well said.

        Horner says Newey is well fired up with a bespoke Honda PU, and even last half of last season the team was already right up there.

  4. Let’s see how long honeymoon phase lasts. Now it is all positive feedback. Do they really have a chance to challenge Ferrari and Merc. Let’s hope so. If not it is not gonna be a good year for Red Bull and neither for Honda.

    1. If they can challenge Merc and Ferrari at at least five venues and win that will be a huge achievement in their first car with Honda. But that is one person’s prediction, and I think most people are not expecting RBR to challenge for the WDC or WCC over the year. Just here and there. I’ll be thrilled if they match what they did last year and haven’t fallen down a bit while they build up their effort, now with Honda. If they do need time, that’s understandable and normal for F1. They haven’t even had one race together yet.

      1. I agree @robbie. I myself will be impressed already if RBR start of more or less where they were last year. I expect them to have some issues down the line with the engine too, maybe after it has done a race or three. And it does seem (following the trend of recent years as well as what is mentioned above) the gearbox might still be a matter of some concern too.

        If they can challenge for solid podiums as often as they could last year, and have a reasonable shot at winning a couple of races (for now I think 2-3 would be a solid and satisfying expectation if things go fine) they can still celebrate that as a really good start of the Honda partnership. If they can really be in the mix for wins at even a third of the races and win 4-5 of them I think they have reason to expect to be able to have a shot at the championship for next season.

  5. georgeboole (@)
    10th March 2019, 22:11

    As much as I d like to see RBR challenging Mercedes and Ferrari for the championship, I m not really confident that will happen. I believe they may get a couple of opportunistic wins but nothing more. It’s too early for that to work well.
    And if there is a slight problem with the Honda P, I bet Renault will be there to take advantage

  6. I think Red Bull hired the same PR that McLaren had during their two engine changes. Ron Dennis and Fernando Alonso said pretty similar things.

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