Formula 1

Red Bull: Honda can make Max Verstappen F1’s youngest champion

Red Bull is now so confident in the Honda package that it has set a target of making Max Verstappen Formula 1’s youngest-ever world champion in 2019.

Sebastian Vettel currently holds that record, having secured his first title with Red Bull in 2010 aged 23 years and 134 days.

That means Verstappen, currently 21, has until 2020 to take the honour – but Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko said there are “no excuses” not to try to achieve it in 2019.

He sees the team’s form in Mexico, where the altitude put Renault on a par with rivals Mercedes and Ferrari, as a sign of how strong the Red Bull chassis is and is confident 2019 engine supplier Honda is already superior to Renault.

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“We’re really looking forward to next year,” Marko told Autosport.

“The aim is to have the youngest world champion. Two years we have, but we’ll go for it next year.

“We know the first year with a new engine manufacturer is not easy.

“But the aim, and the goal that I’ve told all the people, is that we have to go for the championship from the beginning. No excuses.”

Marko admitted that Honda reliability could be a concern, but he stressed that the high number of engine changes current Honda team Toro Rosso has accrued in 2018 is related to a strategy of wanting to test new developments.

“It’s tactical to get the best for next year,” he said.

“Toro Rosso are sacrificing their season for next year. It’s part of our concept that we have with Honda.

“The figures are already ahead of Renault.

“But even so if you have one or two starts from the back, with Verstappen there’s some excitement.

“On the radio he’s talking like he’s sitting with a cup of tea. The sort of information he is asking for… He’s unbelievable. There is no limit yet.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner agreed after Verstappen’s commanding Mexican Grand Prix win that his driver can take on the established title contenders next year.

“You’ve seen this weekend if we’ve an engine that’s anywhere near the ballpark of our opponents then we’ve got a strong enough team and strong enough driver package to take the fight to them,” Horner said.

“We’re obviously hopeful that the Honda, with the progress they’re making, will put us into the situation that we’re more regularly able to compete like we are here – with the optimum downforce and setting on the car.”

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