Max Verstappen says Red Bull’s recent strong form is not just the result of the impressive power unit gains made by its Formula 1 engine supplier Honda. 

Verstappen continued his strong start to 2019 by following up his victory in Austria and fifth place finish at Silverstone with a front-row starting slot for the German Grand Prix, having split the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in qualifying. 

The Dutchman ended up 0.346s shy of Hamilton’s pole effort at Hockenheim and felt he could have been even closer had he not made an error on his final flying lap in Q3. 

Asked whether his latest display highlighted the encouraging progress made by Honda this year, Verstappen replied: “It’s not only the engine, of course. That’s also the car where you’re always constantly trying to improve.

“But it’s not only about bringing updates but also about learning more about the car in terms of set-up, how you can find a bit more time in that as well. 

“Sometimes it’s better than on other tracks but I think today [Saturday] in general has been pretty good but of course we tried to close the gap because there is still a gap but we’re working on it.”

Heading into the weekend, teammate Pierre Gasly said he believed Red Bull was now in a position to challenge Ferrari on a regular basis.

Ferrari looked favourite to land a possible front-row lockout at Hockenheim until separate reliability failures hit both cars in what turned out to be a nightmare qualifying session for the Italian squad.

“I always expected them to be quite quick here,” Verstappen said. “They have, of course, amazing top speed, but also, I think the layout of the track seems to be quite good for them.

“There’s still a race to go and we’ll see how they will perform there. Of course, they have a bit more work to do but I expect them still to come to the front.” 

With Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel set to start 10th and last respectively on Sunday, Red Bull finds itself in prime position to reduce some of its 52-point deficit to Ferrari in the constructors’ championship. 

 

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