Max Verstappen says the rate of progress made by Honda this season has made him “very excited” for Red Bull’s 2019 Formula 1 prospects.

Red Bull will end its long-term association with Renault to take on Honda power units from next year, after being impressed by the Japanese manufacturer’s gains with sister squad Toro Rosso in 2018.

Toro Rosso has been encouraged by the ever-growing potential of Honda’s engine after strong qualifying performances in Japan and Austin, with Pierre Gasly claiming it has made a “good step” compared to Red Bull's current suppliers Renault.

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“I am very excited,” Verstappen said about the current Honda situation.

“They seemed really quick in qualifying, so of course we try to finish the season in the best way possible, and the whole team is very motivated [for next year].

“On the numbers and from what they are doing on the dyno already in terms of preparation for next year, it looks very promising.”

Gasly ran Honda’s latest power unit during United States Grand Prix qualifying and turned heads with a strong lap in Q1 to end the session seventh-fastest, ending up just 0.084s behind Verstappen.

When asked about the Frenchman’s impressive Q1 performance, Verstappen replied: “OK so they used a few more tyres but our car should be quite a bit better and they were very competitive. It’s good.”

The Dutchman believes the reason Honda has made such promising gains this year is down to it being allowed to flourish at Toro Rosso, unlike the high-pressure environment it found itself in at former partner McLaren.

“Basically now they did their own thing in making the engine, instead of the team telling them how to make the engine,” he explained.

“They got a few people on board, different management and it looks very promising. Of course a year ago it was a bit difficult to really judge that but that was always their intention.

“You have to wait to see if they are really going to succeed, but they are definitely heading in the right direction so I’m very happy with that.”

Verstappen reckons Red Bull will be in a position to win races early on in 2019 providing the team can produce a “magical” chassis.

“It’s a bit difficult to tell now but if we build a magical chassis and the engine is working reasonably well, then maybe we can.

“I think at the moment probably not but we will see.”

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