The five-time world champion said that Max Verstappen’s impressive race in Melbourne reminded him of his hero and legend of the sport Ayrton Senna.

Verstappen finished the race in third place behind Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton making it the first F1 podium in over a decade for the Japanese marque Honda.

The last time Honda got a podium was back in 2008, in the British Grand Prix.

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands holds up his trophy after coming third in the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Melbourne. (Rick Rycroft/Associated Press)

The Red Bull driver had split the two Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc during the qualifying for Melbourne and in the race on Sunday Verstappen closed down Vettel to clinch a prestigious third place.

The Belgian-Dutch also came close to second place last weekend but encountered an in-form Lewis Hamilton who was too good and ended up securing a first and second place for his team together with Bottas who won the race.

Last year’s champion Hamilton, said the inspiring performance in Melbourne from Verstappen’s Honda-powered racing car reminded him of his childhood hero Ayrton Senna, who brought success to the McLaren team also powered by the Japanese brand back in the 1980s and 90s.

“It’s great to see the improvement that it’s had for the team,” Hamilton said.

“They were with Renault for such a long time and Verstappen was able to pass the Ferrari. It’s awesome.

“The Red Bulls are there with us and I think we’re going to have a really great battle through the year between the three of us.

“I remember growing up watching Ayrton drive the Honda at McLaren and they were a formidable force back then and it’s great to see them back up there.”

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s team boss, was really happy with the first race for the Honda at McLaren.

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Max Verstappen, Australian GP 2019. (© RV Press)

“They’ve given us a great product over the winter, the engine’s delivering good power and it’s been reliable,” Horner said to Sky Sports.

“To pass a Ferrari and to be racing wheel-to-wheel with them is really positive.”

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