Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2019

Verstappen feels title-winning car is closer than ever

2019 F1 season

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Max Verstappen believes he is closer than ever to having a car which can potentially challenge for the world championship at Red Bull.

In Brazil he scored the team’s third victory since they began using Honda power units at the beginning of the season. Red Bull confirmed yesterday they have extended their Honda deal to 2021.

Asked whether he is now closer to having a car he can with the championship with Verstappen said “yes, I think we do, looking at the plans for next year.

“But of course, you say have to wait and see what the others come up with. Of course we want to fight for the title so we’re going to give it everything we have to be competitive from the start next year.”

Verstappen said the team’s first season with Honda power was “very promising” after switching from TAG Heuer-branded Renaults.

“We had some some good results. For me, what was more important was also reliability. I think that has been very strong, throughout the whole year.

“Also the progression we made with the engine itself that has all been going really well. But we always want more, so we will never be satisfied with what we are doing.

“But it’s been good and I think it is a good basis for next year as well. I think we learned a lot throughout the whole year and I feel confident that we can have a positive start to next season.”

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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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20 comments on “Verstappen feels title-winning car is closer than ever”

  1. RedBull’s chassis seems to be closing the 0.3s gap to Mercedes. If Honda closes the 0.3s gap to Ferrari on the straights (or FIA’s technical directives do), he’s in business.

    1. The “other team” which was brought to question by the FIA is believed to be Honda, so the hope that Honda close the gap to Ferrari would mean that they are less severely impacted by the FIA’s ruling than Ferrari. This just means it should bring them both closer to Mercedes in the straights and make the battle that much sweeter for us as the spectators.

      1. I understand you’re mentioning “other team” as being a different manufacturer. Because in the news two fuel flow systems were confiscated, one from Ferrari itself and the other one from another team using Ferrari engine (most likely Alpha…).

        I don’t think the japanese honor system would let them cheat by tampering with the fuel flow sensor or other system.

        Exploring the loopholes, though, it’s everybody’s game. That’s were the FIA directive comes in.

        If you’re right about Honda’s parts being checked, since RedBull took Mercedes’ bait and filed the protest, I assume that would be fair to treat everyone equally, and inspect the other three manufacturers too. Not only Honda.

        I noticed that both Mercedes and Ferrari dropped in form after the directives. Honda and Renault became closer after that.

        1. I don’t think the japanese honor system would let them cheat by tampering with the fuel flow sensor or other system.

          BAR Honda was caught cheating in F1 (banned for a few races). Toyota was caught cheating in WRC (banned for a whole season)

        2. Only Facts!, the allegation from Auto Motor und Sport was that three teams had parts seized in Brazil – the Ferrari works team, a customer Ferrari team (probably Alfa Romeo) and a non-Ferrari manufacturer, which they alleged was Honda.

          As an aside, you comment about “since RedBull took Mercedes’ bait and filed the protest”, but it seems that there have been those at Mercedes saying that Marko’s allegations that Mercedes helped them collect evidence on Ferrari is rubbish and that Marko seemed to be using that to try and turn Ferrari against them. In other words, it sounds more like Marko doing his usual thing of weaponising the press against his rivals – and, in this case, using a single provocation to stir trouble up against two rivals, rather than just one.

    2. Im pretty sure Honda has already been as quick or quicker on the straight vs Mercedes almost all year. In my opinion they do seem to push the PU harder on certain circuits, as well as having used at least 1 more pU than Mercedes. It’s hard to know . It feels like they are willing to sacrifice pace on some circuits to maximize others and on the circuits they run harder at, the Honda trap speeds are faster as well as just seeing the acceleration on track.

  2. I don’t think so, but let’s see.
    2020 is shaping to be quite epic on many fronts anyway.

  3. …what was more important was also reliability. I think that has been very strong, throughout the whole year.

    For me one of the highlights of this season was seeing Max overtake Lewis.
    Looking at the causes of retirement for Honda powered cars so far this season, it seems to me the only faults you can pin on Honda is a broken driveshaft, suggesting their engine was too powerful, and an oil leak, which could easily not be Honda’s fault. Honda have done an outstanding job.
    I now suspect some of McLaren’s “Honda unreliablity” could be more themselves and less Honda.

  4. I’d absolutely love the 2020 title fight to be between Hamilton, trying to equal and surpass Schumacher’s records, and Max Verstappen trying to win his first championship.

    Mercedes quite clearly stopped developing their car earlier than their competitors so it suggests they might start next season strong, but if Red Bull are within touching distance you can guarantee Max will be there or thereabouts.

    1. … least when he remembers to brake and turn in the first corner.

  5. How many times last years have we heard the same story where Red Bull is on fire at the end of the season, and then the start of the next is a disappointment.

    Honda also made some comments that they expect to be properly competitive if the loopholes and grey areas are fully closed so let’s see if FIAs recent tightening will continue next season.

  6. Nothing in F1 would bring me greater joy than seeing a Red Bull-Honda win the title. But… too often lately have Red Bull tended to do very well towards the end of a season and then start the next a little off the pace. They always pull back up as the in season development is pretty great but so far they’ve not been too good at STARTING a season with that strength. Next year, if they start as strongly as they’ve finished, I wouldn’t bet against Verstappen for grabbing his first world title.

  7. Helmut Marko started the season claiming they would win at least 5 races in 2019. So they clearly have not even met that target. Although Verstappen should have won in Hungary and Mexico of course, so it surely would have been possible based on the car’s performance potential.

    But then that’s where Hamilton makes the difference for Mercedes. Especially in 2018, where won the WDC by not just winning the “easy” races, but notably also many of the ones that he shouldn’t have been able to win. But also this season in races like Bahrain, Canada, Hungary, Russia and Mexico.

    1. I say 10 podiums and 2 pole positions is close to 5 wins.

      1. @drycrust, not sure how you come to a total of ten podiums, as Red Bull have three wins and five other podium finishes this season. For context, in 2018, when they were powered by Renault, they had three wins, nine other podium finishes and the same number of pole positions (two).

        1. @anon I took the liberty of including Toro Rosso’s results in the count since F1oSaurus (@f1osaurus) was talking about Dr Marko, who is associated with both Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso.
          While there have been some team changes, all the drivers have driven Honda powered cars and report (in part) to Dr Marko, so:
          Max Verstappen: Podiums = 8, Pole Position = 2.
          Alex Albon: 0, 0.
          Pierre Gasly: 1, 0.
          Daniil Kvyatt: 1, 0.
          Total: 10 Podiums, 2 Pole Positions.

          1. @drycrust Pfft, Marko was clearly talking about Red Bull! Also about WINNING races.

            They won 4 races last year and only 3 (so far) this year.
            They had 13 podium last year and only 8 this year.

            So if anything they are now performing worse. Although of course Ricciardo won half those races in 2018 and they now have basically a one driver team.

          2. @drycrust, as @f1osaurus does note, Marko was explicitly talking about the RB14 when he made the prediction that Red Bull would win “at least five races”, as he went on to talk about how Red Bull were hoping changes to the handling characteristics of the RB14 would make it more competitive at other circuits.

            I’m not necessarily bashing, but at the same time think that Red Bull will probably feel the season hasn’t quite worked out as strongly as they had hoped. Their partnership with Honda is working reasonably well, but the recent rumours of increased interest by the FIA, with the allegations of the FIA seizing parts in Brazil, may not necessarily be good news.

            Maybe it’s just me, but it’s felt a little like Red Bull spent some of the year treading water rather than being a radical change either way. Having misjudged how fast Mercedes was at the start of the season, and perhaps having misjudged Ferrari’s development potential – they were predicting Ferrari would develop down a blind alley, but some of their recent aero developments actually seem to have been influenced by Ferrari – it feels as if Red Bull have made more of a sideways move this season (which was more along the lines of what I expected to happen).

            The team still also has the problem of what to do about a second driver – they failed to get the most out of Gasly, and whilst Albon has been doing a solid enough job, at the same time there does seem to be a perception that he’s something of a second driver picked because he’s good enough.

            It means that, whilst Verstappen will slightly better his 2018 score – despite actually picking up less podium finishes (nine last season, plus two wins, against five podiums and three wins this season), the team as a whole might actually fail to beat their 2018 points haul, and overall it’s a bit of a mixed chalice for Red Bull.

            It’s possibly cost them in the WCC – Ferrari have scored significantly less points this season, but Red Bull have failed to capitalise themselves – and, right now, there is the issue that they don’t have a second driver who can deny points to the other drivers, although at the same time he is also not denying Verstappen from scoring points either. That situation does mean that it feels that, even if Red Bull might not be intending to do so, they’re effectively in a situation where they’re sacrificing something in the WCC for the WDC.

    2. @f1osaurus I can go along with that. Frankly Marko seemed to be the only one on the team to make such a prediction and I squirmed when he said it because I thought they were going to have way more teething problems than they have, and therefore he shouldn’t be so cocky. But hey, we all have our own fingerprint. Yeah there’s the more engines used fact, but they always said they’d take those penalties for now if it meant they had pace and progression. I’ve been highly impressed. Too bad PG’s two crashes in pre-season set them back early on, but it is what it is.

      What Max needs is what LH has which is the WDC car, and it sure looks like they’re trending upwards, so we shall see. For now Mercedes gets the nod as the benchmark to beat for 2020, as yet again the defending WDC and WCC. It’s up to the others to usurp them, so I still give them the nod for Champs again next year, but of course will be fully behind Max and ever hopeful they ace their next car.

  8. Why does he need better than the fastest to consider it a championship car? The aero and chassis is superior to Merc and we already saw the Honda brutally outpower a Merc.
    Since he is supposed to far superior to any driver who ever lived, I believe best aero, best chassis and best engine should be sufficient.

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