Max Verstappen expects he will have to wait until 2020 before Red Bull is ready to challenge for championships after its switch to Honda.
Following a number of frustrating seasons with Renault power units in the V6 turbo era, Red Bull has opted to use Honda from next season, entering into a works partnership with the Japanese manufacturer. While the team has been talking up the potential of the new collaboration, Verstappen is not expecting to be in a position to fight for the title next season.
“Everyone wants that, but in Formula 1 that’s a tricky thing,” Verstappen told his official website. “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.
“I think [it will be a year of investing], but in a positive way. We will in any case know what we will be getting and which steps are being taken.”
Despite that caution, Verstappen is still encouraged by the opportunities Honda will offer, saying it is a better proposition than Renault given the attitude he has so far witnessed.
“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.”
Verstappen has won one race so far this season for Red Bull — in Austria in July — but finished last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix on the podium and is fifth in the drivers’ championship, 26 points behind Kimi Raikkonen in third place.