Red Bull hoping Honda power will reduce gap to Mercedes, Ferrari

Red Bull and Mercedes to launch 2019 F1 cars on same day

Red Bull to launch new F1 car on same day as Mercedes

Verstappen started the last campaign in miserable fashion but ended it with a flourish and won two races in Austria and, of course, Mexico on the way to a fourth-place finish, just two points behind Kimi Raikkonen.

"I don't think he lacks anything that they have, and if we can provide him the tools to do the job, he's probably the driver that they fear the most".

Verstappen was the sport's youngest driver when he debuted with Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso as a 17-year-old and the youngest victor at 18 at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

While the jury is still out as to whether Honda can deliver the power and reliability that Red Bull needs to race at the front on a regular basis, Verstappen is now a known quantity, and one that Horner believes is ready to join the Hamilton-Vettel party.

Last year's regulations saw drivers permitted to using just three engines over an entire season, with penalties handed out to anyone who exceeded the limit. He is worldlier, more experienced.

He said Verstappen had learned from his mistakes and that the 'community service' charge he served for starting an altercation with Force India's Esteban Ocon following their crash in Brazil past year had opened his eyes.

Red Bull has a new partnership with Honda this year after more than a decade with Renault, whose engines powered them to four successive driver and constructor title doubles between 2010-13.

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Thai-born Alexander Albon raced in the shadows of the top two British drivers in Formula 2 last season, but has earned his big chance alongside Kvyat.

Team boss Horner is quoted by Speed Week: "Honda is having a strong winter".

"He came back and went, 'Crikey, these guys have got hard decisions to make".

But team boss Christian Horner says hopes are high that Honda has hit its targets and that it can at least make progress in 2019.

Honda made significant progress in 2018 but Verstappen told his official website he does not expect to match Mercedes and Ferrari for power at the start of the new season.

"Charles is a really exciting talent".

Gasly will be racing alongside Max Verstappen and although Gasly is older, Verstappen has more experience in Formula 1, so Gasly will be looking up the Dutchman.

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