If you’re a Red Bull fan, the biggest question you had regarding this new season was whether or not the Honda engine would be good enough so as to help the Austrian outfit challenge Mercedes and Ferrari when it comes straight line speed.
That’s been the issue for Honda ever since they returned to Formula 1 with McLaren in 2015. Well, that and reliability, but the latter issue seems to have been resolved after Honda’s strong 2018 campaign with Toro Rosso.
Quicker than Ferrari?
Not quite, but definitely more impressive, at least so far. Max Verstappen’s Honda-powered Red Bull couldn’t quite match Sebastian Vettel’s pace during qualifying this past Saturday, but on Sunday the young Dutchman finished P3, overtaking Vettel and his Ferrari along the way.
This surge in performance hasn’t gone unnoticed, with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff saying that he feels as though Honda has made a huge step forward and that “if you look at the speed trace, it looks a very different Red Bull than before. They’re very fast on the straights and that’s good to see.”
Meanwhile, when asked by Autosport how encouraged he was by the car’s race-long performance, Verstappen stated: “In general I’m just very pleased.”
“I could at least have a go at it in terms of top speed. It’s a good progress, there’s a lot of positive things coming as well. If I just compared top speeds against the other two teams, I’m very pleased with that.”
Verstappen third-place finish in Melbourne marked Honda’s first ever podium in the V6 hybrid era.