Max Verstappen says there isn’t a clear power advantage from Honda’s latest power unit and was frustrated to face questions on the topic after securing pole position for the Styrian Grand Prix.
Honda introduced a new power unit — its first change of the season — at the French Grand Prix, and Lewis Hamilton was keen to point out the straight-line speed advantage Red Bull had on the Mistral Straight at Circuit Paul Ricard. With Red Bull running a lower drag configuration, the team said the gains were from setup, and although Verstappen was asked about the historic trend of Honda’s power unit performance at high altitude continuing in Austria, he defended the latest specification.
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“We’ve always been quite good with altitude but I think next time I’m going to bring a printout of the rear wing difference we’re running and then I’m going to hand it over to every single journalist,” Verstappen said. “Because I get these questions now, two questions — two or three weeks — that we are really quick on the straight, and yes we are, but look at our rear wing, I don’t think it’s exactly the same.
“For sure Honda did a great job compared to last year, but from our first engine to the engine we have in the car now it’s all about reliability improvements and no clear advantage on pure power. So I’m going to fire up my printer next time and I’m going to hand over a few shots.”
Verstappen’s comments came after a qualifying session in which he delivered a stunning first lap in Q3, with his second attempt slightly slower but still good enough for pole position.
“I think it clicked quite well in qualifying — we made a few little adjustments and it seemed like that was a good step forward,” he said. “So then it was getting through the tires, making sure you’d qualify on the medium in Q2 because the gaps round here are quite small, so it was not super easy to get through Q2 with that tire. But we managed to do that and pretty pleased in Q3 — that first lap was pretty good. My second run was a little bit worse just because I was the last one in the train, so my tires were just a little bit too cold to start the lap; but nevertheless it was a good qualifying.
“I find it always quite difficult round here. There are not many corners but still Turn 3, Turn 4, it’s easy to lose like 0.1/0.15s if you just miss an apex or you are too deep in or on the exit have a moment. So I would say there are a few other tracks out there which are a bit easier to nail the lap but it was good. I’m never satisfied, but it was pretty good.”