After a disastrous preseason, it is largely predicted that world champions of the last four years, Red Bull, will find it hard to make it a quintet of titles in 2014.
With cooling issues affecting the RB10 and a seemingly inferior V6 power unit from Renault, the Anglo-Austrian team is not expected to challenge for victory with just making the finish at the Australian Grand Prix next weekend perhaps the best Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo can hope for.
Naturally those who have become disenchanted with Vettel’s dominance of the past few years are delighted at the prospect of seeing new teams winning races and one of the lead ‘villains’ in the team, Helmut Marko, is now predicting it could be quite some time before Red Bull return to the top.
“The season opener is coming at least two months too early for us,” Marko said on the Sport und Talk programme.
“We are not where we should be.”
Because of the issues, Red Bull were among the bottom three teams in terms of mileage covered during preseason. That lack of running – particularly versus their usual rivals – is another reason why the Austrian is predicting a long road to recovery for the world champions.
“This is a very, very serious thing,” Marko added.
“At the moment we do not know what (time) period we will need to catch up, or whether we will at all,” he admitted.
Despite the woes the team have faced in the past month or so, many believe that just finishing the race in Melbourne could lead to scoring some points indeed based on Mercedes Chairman Niki Lauda’s prediction only one driver who finished would failed to score a point.
“I believe that half the field will not finish,” the Austrian claimed, “simply because there has not been the opportunity for enough testing.”
Though Daniel Ricciardo give a glimpse of what the RB10 could do while it was working, posting a low 1:35 on Friday last week, some believe the car still may not be competitive even if the reliability issues are fixed.
“The Red Bull does not look good,” an experienced source, trackside in Bahrain last week, was quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
“Nothing seemed right — the coordination of engine, gears and setup did not fit together. Sebastian (Vettel) was always sliding and spinning his wheels, while the Williams was like on rails,” he added.
The car is also very slow in a straight line, as the Mercedes and Ferrari cars powered upwards of 210mph (335kph) in Bahrain, Renault and particularly Red Bull were far behind barely reaching 190mph (308kph), though on this point the French supplier is taking some blame.
“Melbourne will be an anxious weekend,” admitted technical boss Rob White.
“I hope we can support our teams and drivers to explore the performance of the car and allow the race to deliver its sporting verdict.”
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