Max Verstappen says he was positively surprised by the Honda engine throughout the two weeks of pre-season testing.
Red Bull will use Honda engines throughout the 2019 season after the Japanese manufacturer spent the 2018 campaign with Red Bull's sister team, Toro Rosso.
Verstappen trialled the Honda power unit for the first time in Barcelona, while teammate Pierre Gasly already has a year of experience under his belt with Honda, as he drove the 2018 season with Toro Rosso.
The Dutchman was left frustrated last year by the issues of the Renault engine, but enjoyed the initial feeling of the Honda power unit.
“I think for me what was the most important is to just feel the new engine,” said Verstappen. “It’s a completely different power unit so I just wanted to get used to drive-ability, I wanted to understand down-shifting, all these kind of things.
“And I was very positively surprised, it was all feeling very good. We didn’t really have to change a lot around it to make it really drive-able and nice. So that was a big positive."
Honda is playing catch up to the leading manufacturers and showed impressive reliability over the course of testing. While question marks still hang over the pace of the engine, Verstappen is pleased with the mileage it was able to rack up without issues.
“I was also surprised with the reliability because we did a lot of laps and we basically never really got stopped by any issues. That’s of course what you want in testing. So very impressive first few weeks.
“I think also working together with the Honda engineers was really nice and pleasant because they knew exactly what I was talking about. We really understood each other, the communication felt very easy going."
Verstappen added that although Red Bull's relationship with Honda is still in its early stages, the two understand each other well.
“That is very important for the season ahead, especially in critical conditions in the race when you don’t have a lot of time to decide. I think we already understand each other very well.
"That’s why I think also those first few weeks they are very important to get to know each other a lot more and feel and understand each other and the way you are working. So a very positive two weeks.”