Verstappen: Honda now pushing engine harder after McLaren-enduced caution

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Max Verstappen claims Honda is beginning to be more ambitious with the engine after the "careful" approach with McLaren.

The new partnership with Red Bull has been a success for the Japanese manufacturer so far with two wins and their first pole since returning to Formula 1 in 2015.

A considerable improvement in reliability has also been notable and that build-up of confidence has seen performance improve, with Verstappen's victory in the heat in Austria a key example.

"I thought Honda wanted to prevent engines from breaking, but we are pushing a little harder now and it is still going well," Verstappen said.

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"Because of all the negative stuff that they experienced at McLaren, with all those engines being blown up, I think they were a bit careful.

"However, I think this has been the right approach."

Red Bull has also been upgrading its car design to optimise the engine performance and that has brought the RB15 upto a level where it is becoming a threat to Mercedes in recent races.

"We continued to work hard and the factory also pushed hard to get new parts onto the car as quickly as possible," Verstappen continued.

"Of course Adrian [Newey] was on top of it and because of this, we had a very fast car that made driving a pleasure.

"From Austria, where we have brought a few new parts to the car that seem to have turned things around, we can finally really push the car."

Those gains have also been noted by Lewis Hamilton, who has been quick to praise Honda for their improvements.

“It’s really fantastic to see Red Bull’s progress,” the world champion told

“We’re in a period of time, particularly this track [Hungary} has been a track that they’ve always been particularly fast in previous years, and it’s really awesome for Honda as well, to see their progression.

“They’ve got a lot of power in that engine. The Red Bull was quicker than us on a single lap and we thought we were relatively level in the race, but we were just able to keep up with them and match their times.

“I think it’s going to continue for the races to come. Even the faster circuits - the engine’s going to be great in Monza, so hopefully we’ll see this battle continue for the rest of the season.

“And, fingers crossed, Ferrari also will take a step back towards us at some point over the next races.”