The four-time defending world champions Red Bull are not ready to relinquish their throne just yet.
Despite still being quite some way off the dominant Mercedes, and as a result way behind in the championship standings, the owner of the Austrian drinks giant Dietrich Mateschitz says his team will not give up on their bid for a fifth straight crown.
“Our first goal is that we become capable of winning this year,” he told APA news agency.
“If we can be competitive then, as long as it is mathematically possible, we are still in the world championship fight — definitely,” the Austrian billionaire added.
The chances of Red Bull catching the Silver Arrows appear slim, however, as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were over 47 seconds ahead of third placed Daniel Ricciardo in Spain.
With some predicting the gap may close on the tight and twisty streets of Monaco, Mateschitz is actually predicting a closer fight at Red Bull’s first home race in Austria, claiming the race at the Red Bull Ring could be a “turning point”.
Much of that, as Mateschitz admits, will depend on improvements from Red Bull’s engine supplier Renault as the French marque’s power and efficiency deficit to the leading Mercedes unit remains large, but as Mateschitz points out there are other factors.
“A new fuel,” he explained, “can bring up to 20 or 30 horse power.
“We have a good car,” he added. “We started two seconds behind but it is looking much better now.”
Further cause for optimism comes as the team hope they can finally start running the Renault V6 hybrid at full power from the Canadian Grand Prix in three weeks. At a circuit expected to be one of the strongest for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, the gap in Montreal will have a bearing on how much longer Red Bull continue development of the RB10.
Indeed as Mateschitz believes Austria could be a positive turning point for Red Bull, his Motorsports advisor Helmut Marko actually believes a decision on whether to continue the 2014 push will come at the race following Canada in Zeltweg.
“The Grand Prix of Austria is a benchmark,” the outspoken native told APA news agency.
“By then we will have all the parameters with the engine all together,” he added.
“Then we’ll see how things look.”
Despite the current gap to Mercedes, inside the team there is still enough to smile about and the man with the biggest grin remains Daniel Ricciardo, the Australian continues his faultless start to life at the Milton Keynes team and finally achieved his first F1 podium in Barcelona on Sunday.
The 24-year-old’s performances have even earned his praise from Mateschitz who admitted Ricciardo had been a “surprise”.
“Sebastian Vettel has had a lot of bad luck this year,” he told Salzburger Nachrichten, “but Daniel has shown no weaknesses from day one.
“This also shows that Toro Rosso is an excellent school for producing future winning drivers, and the very next contender is Daniil Kvyat,” Mateschitz added.
While Vettel himself is enjoying some rare praise from everyone in the F1 family following his drive from 15th to fourth at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Despite a horrid start to the weekend, capped off with a five place grid penalty after qualifying for changing his gearbox, the German admitted the new chassis he had in Spain had made a difference.
“At least the question mark went away,” he told Auto Sport und Motor, referring to how he was struggling with a lack of rear grip with the new 2014 car prior to Barcelona.
“As for the pace, it was reasonable,” said Vettel.
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