Lewis Hamilton believes Honda’s Formula 1 engine has closed to within 10bhp of power unit rivals Mercedes and Ferrari. 

Red Bull switched to Honda engines for 2019 after growing frustrated by Renault’s power deficit to Mercedes and Ferrari throughout the V6 hybrid era. 

The team was encouraged by the Japanese engine manufacturer’s gains over the winter, which appeared to be validated by Max Verstappen’s third place finish at the Australian Grand Prix, as he passed Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari on his way to claiming Honda’s first F1 podium since 2008. 

Five questions that need answering in F1 2019

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“Without doubt, the Red Bulls have a much better power unit this year,” Hamilton said. 

“Their engine performance is very, very close. I think it’s within 10bhp or something within the top cars. If you look at their GPS speed on the straights there pretty much just as quick as us in some places. 

“That’s a great start for them and I just really hope the reliability is good for them so they can stay in the fight.” 

Asked who he felt would be the bigger threat out of Ferrari and Red Bull in Bahrain, Hamilton replied: “They were both really strong here last year and Red Bull look like they’re really stepping it up. 

“I’m really hoping it’s closer this weekend. I know some people think we were sandbagging or whatever in testing but, honestly, we came into the first race thinking it would be a lot closer than that and from the information I had we were behind. 

“Coming into this weekend we had the pleasant surprise of being faster in the last race but it could absolutely change here.

“I think every track offers something different,” he added. “The last track was very similar to Barcelona in terms of how much you use maximum downforce. 

“This is different again in the sense that it’s very hot here, it brings different characteristics. I don’t feel any of these races that we have coming up show one singularity that’s different. 

“I think they’re all different in their own ways, and as I’ve always said in the past, it takes several races to fully understand where everyone stands, whether a car works good on every circuit, you can’t tell from two. It takes a few races at least.”

 

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