Published: Thu, February 07, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Horner: Verstappen the biggest threat to Hamilton

Horner: Verstappen the biggest threat to Hamilton

"This is the first time that Red Bull and Honda have collaborated, and we know that at the beginning of a relationship, it always takes a little time for things to become automatic and you get the most out of it".

"He has all the skills to take on Lewis or Sebastian or whoever it is".

Verstappen has a new team-mate at Red Bull this season following Daniel Ricciardo's move to Renault.

"I think they've had a strong winter", Horner said.

"He's just more worldly, more experienced". He is now in a very rounded position.

Coincidentally, his first win of the season in Austria involved Hamilton's first race retirement since 2016 but the British veteran recovered and is now just two World Championship wins away from former Benetton and Ferrari driver Schumacher's record set back in 2004.

"Of course it depends on the strength of the competition, but on their own data, Honda has made some nice progress", Horner added.

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Horner said Frenchman Pierre Gasly, who is entering only his second season in F1, was "very quick" but that Verstappen's greater experience means "the team will be looking to him to lead the development".

Verstappen clinched the best championship result of his young F1 career last season, rising to fourth in the championship with a stunning podium run in the second half of the year.

Pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya is due to begin five days after the Red Bull launch.

Though the red mist has sometimes caused him to fail, the main thing preventing him going head-to-head with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel on a regular basis over the last couple of seasons has been the lack of outright grunt from the engine in the back of his auto. It's also exciting, but that really only comes when I'm in the auto. "We're extremely hopeful the performance will be a step from where we've been the last few years".

The RB15, the team's first Honda-powered vehicle, will break cover on the same day as Mercedes will reveal its W10.

Red Bull team principal Horner, though, believes Mercedes will be concerned by the prowess of Verstappen.

He claimed that F1 owners Liberty Media "would probably accept it was a mistake" to think they could "just take off a front wing and say it will make racing better".

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