Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says good progress is being made by his team's future engine partner, Honda, and says a large amount of resource has already been invested into the 2019 car.
Despite winning three races earlier this year and competing regularly with Mercedes and Ferrari, Red Bull looks destined to finish a distant third in this year's constructors' championship.
Fed up with a lack of performance and reliability from its Renault power units, Red Bull announced in June that it would switch to Honda next year in the hope the Japanese engine manufacturer would stand a better chance of closing the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes.
The latest Spec-3 engine update, which made its race debut at the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend, appears to be the biggest step yet for Honda and Horner hopes more will follow next year.
"It's obvious that progress -- and good progress -- is being made and that's really encouraging for us," he said. "Our focus is not on where our current position is, it's where the lead position is. That's the same goal that Honda share.
"In-roads are being made to reduce that gap to the benchmark in Formula One. You need all elements to be performing to win in this sport, and of course the engine is a key element. We're looking very much forward to 2019 and starting this relationship with Honda."
And from the chassis side, Horner is hoping his team has gained a head start by focusing on 2019's new aerodynamic regulations while rivals Mercedes and Ferrari have been engaged in the title fight.
"We have a regulation change coming for next year, the front wing changes the characteristics of the car quite significantly," he said. "We're effectively in no-man's land in the constructors' championship [this year], so obviously, a large amount of resource is already being placed into next year's programme."