In an interview with the media, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo has admitted despite their disappointing test in Bahrain last week, he and his team are in a battle against time to have a competitive car before the start of the 2014 season in Australia. The reigning Constructors’ Champions had a disappointing time at the Bahrain test last week, where both Sebastian Vettel and Ricciardo struggled with reliability.
Vettel did not leave his garage at all on the first morning of testing and only made an appearance on track 45 minutes before the session was called off. On the second day of the test, Vettel had a much better time of it and completed 59 laps in his RB10. Ricciardo’s time in the new Red Bull car were cut short by technical issues on days three and four, during which he only completed 28 and 15 laps respectively.
Following on from the test in Bahrain last week, the Red Bull rookie admitted that the team needed more time on track to work on ongoing technical problems if they are to challenge for a podium position in Melbourne in less than three weeks time. In his interview, Ricciardo stated the following:-
“I guess we still need more time. We have four more days coming up and hopefully we can maximise those. I have to say that on the run we did today the car did feel better. But unfortunately another problem arose and we couldn’t exploit that potential. I hope we can do more running next week.’
Over the past few weeks, Red Bull has surprised everyone generally with their poor start to the 2014 season. The team have experienced problems with their cooling on the RB10 alongside problems with the Renault Power Units and Energy Recovery Systems that have been well documented within the paddock and also through the media.
Ricciardo has a valid point though. Red Bull just need some more time just like the rest of the field to get to grips with the new challenge presented by the new technical regulations for this season. There is no doubt that the signs showed by Red Bull last week have taken a slight step in the right direction for them despite still struggling to gain sufficient track mileage that they would like.
Ricciardo further on in his interview stated that despite the problems they are trying to fix at the moment, the signs of progress with the RB10 are showing slowly. He stated:-
‘Obviously, I would have liked to do more this afternoon but we still have tomorrow ahead of us and it’s important to be ready for that. The car is definitely making progress though. It’s coming together bit by bit. We’d love a big chunk all at once but that’s not the way it works, so we have to be patient. But it is coming and we’re heading in the right direction.’
Despite everything, it is still pleasant to hear that Ricciardo is remaining positive about things at Red Bull at the moment. Of course it would be understandable for the team and also him to be worrying and have concern about their current lack of performance throughout pre-season testing. Ricciardo just like every other driver on the field understands that this year will be a continuous and steep learning curve and that patience and hard work will be rewarded sooner rather than later throughout the 2014 season.
The final pre-season test at Bahrain this week is Red Bull’s final opportunity to test the car’s reliability and Ricciardo is pleased that he gets a first crack at the Bahrain track when the third and final test starts on Thursday. Ricciardo said the following:-
‘I’m happy I’m doing the first two days. At this stage we just need laps and I’m just looking forward to get back in the car.”
Ricciardo will no doubt grab the opportunity in the final pre-season test to see if they can try and get to get a further understanding of their issues with the RB10 before the start of the season in Melbourne in a few weeks time. At this current stage, Ricciardo has managed to gain maybe not enough track mileage that he would have wanted but I believe he will try his best to try and build on the foundation and data he has already given the Red Bull team.
Alongside Ricciardo stating that Red Bull need more time to get on top of their issues, Red Bull race engineer Andy Damerum has also revealed that the team will have an updated car at the third pre-season test. Damerum stated the following:-
“We’ve made some very good progress, particular on day two, but we’ve also had a number of problems that have again held us back. The engineering team will head back to Milton Keynes now to plan the next moves and we can only look forward and try to get everything in place for the next test.’
I do believe that as a result of last week’s test at Bahrain that Red Bull have taken some slight steps in order to try and work out through the issues that they have with their car. Of course Red Bull will be worried about the performance of the Mercedes team and the rest of the Mercedes-powered teams on the grid, but at this early stage of the season, it is far too early to tell if they will be competitive in a few weeks time in Melbourne.
But as I have stated in previous blog posts on Jones on F1, I believe if any team can fix these issues, it is Red Bull. Red Bull in my view has one of the best Technical Directors in Formula One in Adrian Newey who has all the experience needed to turn this around into a positive. The fact that they will be using an updated car this week in Bahrain shows the hard work, commitment and dedication from the Red Bull team in order to try and get their 2014 season off to the best start that they can possibly can.
Will Red Bull be able to put everything they have learnt from the first two pre-season tests and have a strong and consistent showing in the final pre-season test this week? We can only wait and see.