Red Bull would have challenged Mercedes for race wins last year if they used the same power unit, that is the claim of their driver Daniel Ricciardo.
The Australian, who was the only man other than Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg to win a Grand Prix in 2014, believes the upgrades introduced to the RB11 chassis in the second half of last season brought the cars level aerodynamically.
Hungarian GP the turning point
"Since Hungary, the car not only performed better, but it was easier to set up," Ricciardo told Autosport.
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"Our Friday evenings finished so much earlier.
"It's like 2014, it's been in that window. We either found the window or the window just expanded."
Indeed, it was at the Hungarian race where the former Constructors' champions finally showed form reminiscent of recent years, having spent much of the first half mired in the midfield.
Both Ricciardo and team-mate Daniil Kvyat finished on the podium at the Hungaroring as the tight, twisty nature of the circuit negated Mercedes' power advantage, however, incidents with both Silver Arrows' cost the 26-year-old a chance of repeating his 2014 triumph at the venue.
"The signs were there at Silverstone, but Budapest was really where it turned," Ricciardo added.
"I'd honestly say from Budapest, if we had a Merc in the back we would've won a few races, to say the least."
Following that race, the Red Bull drivers consistently battled with Williams and Ferrari in the fight for 'best-of-the-rest' at circuits where power wasn't an overwhelming factor.
At a wet United States Grand Prix in Austin, Red Bull showed their potential to even greater effect, lapping faster than the Mercedes in the early part of the race before dropping down the order as the track dried out, becoming sitting ducks to the Mercedes and Ferrari-powered teams down the straights.
Fixing front nose issues key
For Ricciardo, the key to unlocking the potential came from the team overcoming issues with the then new front nose regulations. Thanks to their renowned designer Adrian Newey, Red Bull had been taking advantage of designing cars with higher front nose sections to improve airflow leading almost all the other teams to follow suit.
"When we did have the new nose/wing combination at Silverstone, that was when it started going better," he said. "That was a big one.
"I know they went through a lot of noses and we tried a lot of combinations.
"That was probably something that we didn't get on top of as soon as we could've done."
2016 a year of transition?
With the regulations stable for 2016, it's a case of how much of the power deficit can be closed which will determine to just how competitive Red Bull are.
Many see this as a stop-gap year for the team as they continue to use the Renault ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) with the ERS package being developed in a partnership by Ilmor Engineering and their chief Mario Illien.
The chassis will also be called the Red Bull- TAG Heuer RB12 as the Swiss watchmaker bought the naming rights from Renault-backed Infiniti.
However, it is believed this is just a temporary solution to the issues that arose following a breakdown in the Red Bull-Renault relationship last year and that the Austrian energy drinks company will find a new full-time supplier for 2017.
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