U.S. Markets closed

Verstappen welcomes Honda power push

Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen (pictured March 2019) said he wants to close the gap on rivals Ferrari and Mercedes (AFP Photo/Andrej ISAKOVIC)

Baku (AFP) - Max Verstappen has welcomed Honda’s push for more power and said he does not mind taking grid penalties so long as he and Red Bull are making progress.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the young Dutchman said he wanted to see Red Bull closing the gap on rivals Ferrari and Mercedes.

"I am really happy because they keep pushing really hard to bring updates so that is always good,” said Verstappen.

"I think last year I showed that even if you start at the back you can still finish on the podium, like for example in Austin.

"I don’t think it is a major problem. I am happy if we can say by the end of the season that we have really closed the gap to Ferrari and if we use a few more engines then that is fine."

Honda are expected to use an upgraded ‘spec 2’ engine in Baku with both the Red Bull and Toro Rosso teams, a move that means Red Bull will use a second of three permitted engines for the season and Toro Rosso a third.

Grid penalties for both teams are almost certain to be given to them later in the season if they exceed three power units each.

Verstappen gave Honda, who had suffered severe performance problems with McLaren before switching to Toro Rosso and Red Bull, their first podium since returning to F1 when he finished third in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

"I am happy that they did it (introducing Spec 2) and hopefully we can run that engine longer than the first one, which we can still use,” said Verstappen.