Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that the first few months of 2015 were a massive reality check for both himself and his Red Bull Racing team, finding themselves down on power and lower down the grid than they were expecting to be.
An underpowered and unreliable Renault power unit limited the popular Australian to just two visits to the podium in 2015, with a second place finish in Singapore the highlight, but Ricciardo admitted he was impressed with how the team kept it together and became a stronger entity because of the relative lack of success.
“I think the first six months of the year were a bit of a reality check for all of us,” said Ricciardo to Motorsport.com. “It was one of those things where it wasn’t just happening anymore. We had to find an alternative, or find something else, or keep working harder.
“It was good for me to go through that as a driver and experience a few more of the lows, after all the highs. As a team, I thought it was a really good turnaround. It could have dragged them down, but instead, from mid-season onwards the car just came to life.
“It was impressive how everyone kept it together. I think it’s made us stronger, and I think when we get the equipment again – the full package – we’ll kill it.”
Ricciardo doubts the team will be able to get to the level set out by Mercedes in 2016, but has better expectations for 2017 to be realistically back at the front and challenging for wins, especially with new regulations coming in that year.
“It’s a long shot next year, to be honest,” said Ricciardo. “It should be a little bit better, but to get on Mercedes’ level, realistically we’ll probably have to wait until 2017. But you never know.
“You never know what can happen. This year we nearly got a win or two, so you don’t know. But we’ll play it down for now.”