New Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly believes that 2019 will be an exciting year for the team as it switches to Honda engines over the winter off-season after 12 years with Renault.
Gasly has some specialist knowledge in the area, having raced with Honda power units this season at the Toro Rosso junior squad.
“I really believe in this project and I can see how much work and dedication they are putting [in],” the French driver told Sky Sports News.
At the moment, Honda still has a deficit in power to the leading engines provided by Mercedes and Ferrari. However Gasly didn’t think that would last for long: “I’m sure they are going to close it at some point.
“We just need to give them time,” he continued. “But I’m sure with the experience of Red Bull, mixing these two really strong companies, they will come up with something really exciting for next year.
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“We also need to see how it goes with Honda, but I think it’ll be really interesting,” he added.
“Red Bull showed at the end of the season they were fighting for victories – Max got one in Mexico and was probably going to get one in Brazil as well.
“Clearly the package works,” he said. “If there is a winning car I’m sure he’s going to be right at the top.”
That all sounds like good news for Max Verstappen – but what about Gasly? At 22 years old he’s actually 18 months older than his new team mate. However, he’s only competed in 26 races up to now compared to Verstappen’s 81, making him very much the junior partner in next season’s Red Bull line-up.
The Frenchman agreed that he still had a lot to learn. While not conceding that he would be the team’s de facto second driver in 2019, he did admit that he would have an awful lot to catch up on now that he’s in F1’s big leagues.
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“I’m still only going to be in my second season of Formula 1,” he acknowledged. “There are still a lot of things to learn, and I still need to develop myself.
“But I know I’m quick,” he insisted. “I need to make the best out of my skills and my qualities, but also work on all the areas I can improve.
“We will see how it goes against Max. He is one of the most talented drivers at the moment – it’s always good to be next to a competitive guy.
“It will be my job to make sure I’m right there as well,” he said. “I’ll give him the hardest time I can and then try to develop as much as possible as a driver. We’ll see the result I get next year.”
Sky Sports F1 pundit Martin Brundle said he expected Gasly to stand up well in 2019 despite the increased glare of media spotlight.
“I think he’ll do a very solid job,” Brundle said. “I have no doubt he has good speed and now it’s a question of whether that can translate into the sort of consistency the top-three teams demand.
“You can’t have weekends where you go on the missing list. You have got to deliver all day, every day and every weekend. We’ll see whether Pierre can do that.”
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