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Max: Red Bull can be a contender by mid-season

Max Verstappen hopes Red Bull will be able to regularly challenge Ferrari and Mercedes for race victories by the middle of the 2019 campaign.

Red Bull has had a positive start to its Honda engine partnership but still remains adrift of the lead pair. As in previous seasons, its best chance of victory at the moment appears to be at circuits such as Monte Carlo where engine performance is negated and the strength of its aerodynamic package is amplified.

Verstappen believes Red Bull will be in the mix at every race before long if it can make some improvements on both the aero and engine side.

“I think we still need to add more horsepower, but we are a little bit closer,” the Dutchman told Autosport. “On the car side we also need to improve to really compete. We’ll see.

“Hopefully halfway through the season we won’t have to say we can only fight on circuits without straights. We are still losing time on the straights, that’s a fact. Especially compared to Ferrari. They found something this year but nobody knows how. They have done their homework and we have to make sure we get closer with the chassis and the engine.”

A championship challenge from Red Bull always seemed to be a long shot this year. The current campaign is seen as preparation for 2020, when it hopes to have made the necessary improvements to challenge for the title.

That means progress this year is essential and the team was encouraged by the fact it finished third at its first race with Honda, the Australian Grand Prix, which marked the Japanese manufacturer’s first visit to the podium since 2005.

“It’s still very early in the season and we are third in the championship. Everything is still possible. We need to make sure we get good updates on the car and the engine and then anything is still possible.”

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