Red Bull boss Christian Horner says Max Verstappen’s “very mature” start to the 2019 Formula 1 season will pay off as the team continues to gain momentum and pace with new engine partners Honda.

Verstappen has produced an impressive opening three rounds for Red Bull with third place in Australia followed by a pair of fourths in Bahrain and China – effectively maximising the team’s potential due to its current pace deficit to Mercedes and Ferrari.

With Horner confident of continual gains from Honda, while the marriage between its new power unit and the RB15 strengthens, the Red Bull boss sees these early positive performances will lay down vital foundations for later this season.

Despite Verstappen’s age and hot-headed approach seen in the past, Horner has praised the 21-year-old’s maturity in seeing he progress track ahead of the new Red Bull-Honda partnership.

“I think he has been very mature about it,” Horner said. “He has driven three strong Grands Prix so far this year and was obviously unlucky not to be on the podium in Bahrain and had a go at Sebastian here after the pit stop. He drove a very mature race to bring it home fourth.

“It is about points accumulation at this stage, it is still not that big a gap to the guys ahead, he is still ahead of both Ferrari drivers in the championship at the moment and still a long, long way to go.

“It is important you don’t give away too much ground at this stage of the year.”

Horner says Red Bull’s ability to beat one of the Ferrari drivers in China, when team orders and strategy hampered Charles Leclerc, it provides optimism and confidence that his squad is making clear progress as it looks to overhaul the performance deficit during the 2019 season.

“It is all about evolution. Our goal this year has been all about closing the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari and we are doing that,” he said. “We split the Ferraris [in China], we’re are certainly closer on pace to Mercedes.

“There will be more concertinaing that will happen between now and the halfway point of the year.”

Verstappen sits in third place in the F1 drivers’ world championship, two points ahead of Sebastian Vettel and a further one point in front of Leclerc.

 

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