Max Verstappen believes Red Bull can have a “very strong” weekend at Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix.

All four Honda-powered cars took on fresh V6 engines in Russia - and subsequent grid penalties - in order to maximise performance at the Japanese manufacturer’s home race at Suzuka this weekend.

Despite anticipating a strong showing from Red Bull’s rivals Mercedes and Ferrari in Japan, Verstappen remains confident his side can challenge for victory.

“We always aim to win and if have a good result in Suzuka, of course it’s great for Honda as well at their home track,” Verstappen said of Red Bull’s chances in Japan.

“At the end of the day, I always want to do well. So I will always of course give the best that I can. If it all comes together in Suzuka, then it will be great. But let’s see.

“Looking at last year in Suzuka I think Ferrari were also very fast. Of course we had our moments in the race together, but I should expect we can have a very strong weekend there.

“But there’s still quite a long straight at the back, without DRS, that can be may be painful but let’s see,” he added.

“We have a fresh engine there, so let’s see how we’re going to compare against Ferrari and Mercedes.

“I expect both teams to be quick. Probably Mercedes in sector one, and Ferrari in sector three. That’s how it’s been basically the whole year and I just hope we find a good set-up in the car. But I’m not too worried.”

After Verstappen picked up two victories in the space of three races in Austria and Germany, Red Bull has been unable to win since F1’s summer break, though it has made substantial gains on Mercedes and Ferrari in recent months.

Asked about the reception he expects to receive from the Japanese fans, Verstappen replied: “Let’s see first if we have the chance of winning.

“But I think after the success we’ve had already this year, which I think many didn’t expect to happen, I just hope that there are a lot of fans coming to the track.

“It will just be a question mark what they’re going to wear because of course they have white and red in their flags but then with Dutch involved they were a lot of orange, so maybe they have to split the t-shirts - let’s see!”

 

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