Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton hopes that Honda’s progress creates a “serious” three-way fight between the leading teams in Formula 1 next year, praising the manufacturer for making “big steps” through 2019.

Max Verstappen scored the third Honda-powered victory of the season in Brazil last weekend for Red Bull, with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly – also powered by Honda engines – taking a shock second place finish.

Gasly won a drag race with world champion Hamilton to the finish line in a clear show of the progress made by Honda’s engines, which previously trailed far behind those of Mercedes and Ferrari.

“The Honda’s obviously made some big steps,” Hamilton said.

“It’s great to see another manufacturer as strong as they are now.

“It means that hopefully next year we’re going to have a serious three-way, four-way battle and that’s great for Formula 1.”

Verstappen – who looks poised to take P3 in the championship for Red Bull-Honda – said he was glad to be writing new history for Honda.

“The pole was the last time in 1991 here in Brazil, and then I think it’s a good time to start doing these things again. We keep relying on the results from the nineties,” Verstappen said.

“I think Honda is definitely on a very good way. Throughout the season they have been improving massively, so just very pleased with it.”

Gasly raced with Honda engines at Toro Rosso through 2018, helping to lay many of the foundations for the Red Bull deal that began this year.

“I think all the work, not only this season, but since they came back into Formula 1, they have had some tough times and they just kept developing, kept working hard and bringing the upgrades,” Gasly said.

“Some things worked, some other things didn’t work but at the end of the day, they are the ones who have improved the most. The attitude and the work they are putting in is just unbelievable.”