The motivation at Red Bull during the off-season is even higher than in the past due to its new partnership with Honda, according to Max Verstappen.

Red Bull has been powered by Renault since 2007 but will switch to Honda next year, with the Japanese manufacturer supplying both Red Bull and Toro Rosso. While Verstappen says there is often a lot of optimism at this time of the year, he notes a different atmosphere at Red Bull given the fresh start from a power unit point of view.

“I’m very excited but the whole team is,” Verstappen said. “You can really feel it. I think it’s good that the whole team is super-motivated for next year. We know that we can build a great car.

“Of course we are just waiting to have the whole package together but I definitely feel a difference compared to the last years where… the motivation was there, everybody was always trying to do their best but now they’re just so looking forward to next year that I think next year, to have that extra motivation will definitely help us to be more successful next year.”

While Honda still struggled for reliability compared to the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari this season, Verstappen says he is still excited by performance improvements even if it results in retirements next season.

“I think this year they’ve been pretty good. They’ve taken a lot of engines because they were in the back or something happened. But of course I prefer sometimes to win a race and then to blow up than always being consistently slow, you know what I mean?”

Following a strong end to the season in which only Lewis Hamilton outscored him after the summer break, Verstappen refuses to be drawn on whether he is ready for a title attempt in 2019.

“I always find that a really difficult question, because you’re so dependent on the package in Formula 1. I mean, when I was watching back in the day to Formula 1, it seemed like Lewis was ready for the title in his first year.

“Of course, I think in a year you can always do things better but I think that’s every year. Even if, at the end of the day, you win the title, there are always things which you can do better. So, yeah, even if we have a winning package, for sure there will be weekends where maybe you make a mistake, or it can be a better weekend overall. Hopefully first we’ll have that package.”