Max Verstappen believes he is closer than ever to having a car capable of winning the Formula 1 world championship with Red Bull, feeling upbeat about his prospects heading into 2020.

Verstappen is on course to record his best finish in the F1 drivers’ championship this year, sitting third entering the final round of the season with an 11-point lead over Charles Leclerc in P4.

Verstappen has scored all three of Red Bull victories in 2019, a season that has brought impressive progress from new engine partner Honda to give the team a better chance to fight with Mercedes and Ferrari on a regular basis.

Asked ahead of this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix if he felt closer than ever to having a car capable of winning the world championship, Verstappen replied: “Yeah. I think we do, also looking at the plans for next year.

“But of course you still have to wait and see what the others have come up with, but we are of course we want to fight for the title.

“So we’re going to give it everything we have to be competitive from the start next year.”

Verstappen said there were plenty of positives to take from his 2019 season heading into next year, particularly Honda’s progress with its engine.

“I think it’s been very promising, and I think also we had some good results.” Verstappen said.

“For me what was also important was the reliability and I think that has been very strong throughout the whole year. Also the progression we’ve made with the engine itself, that has all been going very well but we always want more.

“So we will never be satisfied with what we are doing. But yeah, it’s been good. I think it is a good base for next year as well where I think we learned a lot throughout the whole year.

“I feel confident that we can have a positive start to next season.”

But the prospect of beating Leclerc to third place in the standings offered Verstappen little pleasure.

“I think it’s always nicer than finishing fourth or fifth, but looking back in 20 years time and seeing that you were third in the championship wouldn’t really make me very happy,” Verstappen said.

“I think we are all here to win and we are all here to fight for the title. I think it would be nice after the weekend to be third, but in 20 years’ time, I don’t think it will do much.”