Max Verstappen: F1 legend issues Hamilton and Vettel verdict, raises Red Bull question
That’s the belief of two-time former F1 champion Mika Hakkinen.
The 2019 season once again gets underway with the Australian Grand Prix this weekend after two weeks of pre-season testing in Barcelona last month offered a hint at what may be to come this year.
Last year, Red Bull’s reliability damaged their chances of competing with Mercedes and Ferrari at the front of the grid.
Verstappen managed 11 podium finishes and two race wins, but still ended up 159 points shy of world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull have since changed engine suppliers, from Renault to Honda, but winter testing indicated that there is still a gap between the Milton Keynes-basted team and their two main rivals.
And ex-McLarenracer Hakkinen has hinted that he believes Verstappen will be an outsider to Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in the title fight again this year.
He told Unibet’s Inside Formula One podcast: “First I was thinking it’s not going to work out, it’s not going to go so well. I had a big doubt there [about Red Bull and Honda].
“But they do have a full factory support from Honda and that brings a lot of confidence to get the success.
“Honda had a long, really hard learning curve in Formula One and had really tough years with McLaren. They had a hard road.
“I think now they are in a position that they can start bringing in the performance.
“But I really don’t think they’re still in a level on the performance with Ferrari or Mercedes in power terms.
“If you don’t have that, if you have less horsepower in a straight line, it’s difficult to overtake other cars. That’s a fact.
“I still don’t believe they are on a level [in] power.”
Verstappen himself has claimed that “everything they’ve promised is there” from Red Bull’s new engine partner.
But Hakkinen has suggested Red Bull may soon harbour some regrets about swapping from Renault.
He said: “Looking at the Renault, they are going for it.
“Looking at the test results and what they have done, the engine performance, what they are delivering, I think they are really strong.
“Red Bull, did they make the right decision? They left Renault behind but now they’re going for it.
“What is right, what is wrong? It’s really interesting.”