Max Verstappen insists Red Bull is “not lying” about the promising steps made by Honda ahead of the team’s Formula 1 engine switch to the Japanese manufacturer.

Honda has recovered from its disastrous three-year tenure with McLaren in its new partnership with Toro Rosso and its impressive progress has prompted Red Bull to end its long-term association with Renault and follow its sister squad in favouring Honda power from next year.

Positive noises have emerged from the Red Bull camp ever since the announcement, and Verstappen stressed his team’s data points towards Honda being a step forward in 2019 compared to current engine supplier Renault.

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“It also shows in the numbers. We’re not lying, just putting something in the world which isn’t true,” Verstappen said.

“It also depends on how much the other people are going to improve as well so we have to wait and see.

“I’m realistic. I think initially we’re still a bit shorter on power but it’s definitely going to be better than what we have now.

“For sure it will be closer. Is it going to be enough? Initially I don’t know. It’s all about trying to get the best results possible, and not lose too many points initially.”

Verstappen has enjoyed a strong run of form during the second half of the season and has picked up two wins so far in 2018 following a change of approach after admitting he “fucked up” the first six races.

The 21-year-old has been tipped as future world champion material, and while he has played down expectations of a championship push in Red Bull’s first year with Honda, he feels ready to fight for titles.

"I think I can because I've done now almost four seasons, and Lewis [Hamilton] for example was fighting for a title in his first season,” he added.

"Are you ready for it? You're not sure. Was he? Maybe yes, maybe not.

"But once you have that car underneath you, you are definitely going for it, because normally you're only fighting your team-mate, because there's always a bit of a dominance with the cars.

"It's never 100% clear if somebody is ready or not. As soon as you have that car you're going to drive it as fast as you can, and if it's the fastest car on the grid you're normally winning races or you're second."

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