Lewis Hamilton claims Honda engine is almost level with Mercedes & Ferrari

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Lewis Hamilton believes there is little to choose between Honda is close to matching the engine power of Mercedes and Ferrari.

The Japanese supplier enjoyed a strong start to their new partnership with Red Bull in Australia, as Max Verstappen eased past Sebastian Vettel down the straight to claim third place.

It was a performance that certainly got the German manufacturer's attention, with both Hamilton and motorsport boss Toto Wolff singling out the threat posed by the new alliance.

And now the world champion has offered more insight on just how competitive Mercedes think Honda is.

“Without a doubt, the Red Bulls have a much better power unit this year,” he was quoted by PlanetF1 in Bahrain. “I think their engine performance is very, very close. I believe it’s within 10bhp or something of the top cars.

“If you look at their GPS speed on the straights, they’re pretty much just as quick as us. That’s a great start for them and I really hope the reliability’s strong for them so they can be really in the fight.”

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As for Mercedes, they surprised everyone with their pace in Melbourne, having appeared to struggle in pre-season.

And Hamilton revealed exactly how that performance was discovered.

“We’re still learning about it [the car]. As we mentioned in testing it really wasn’t great to start off with, but we found a window in which it works a lot better and we were very, very fortunate to come across that," he said initially.

"If we hadn’t discovered that in testing, we probably wouldn’t have had the same results we did in the first race. That was [the result of] really hard work from everyone collectively.

"It is a better car but it’s not perfect, there are still areas we are working on, but it’s a really great platform for us moving forward," he added.

“We do understand the car a lot better, particularly from testing, and now we’re moving in a really positive direction.”