Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that there is no clear explanation as to why Red Bull Racing were off the pace of Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team and Scuderia Ferrari.
Red Bull were expected to have been forerunners in this new era of Formula 1 as the change in regulations has placed a greater emphasis on aerodynamic design, an area the team exploited during their championship runs. But throughout the Australian Grand Prix the Milton Keynes based outfit instead found themselves struggling to stay in touch as both Ferraris and Mercedes’ raced off.
Max Verstappen qualified 1.3 seconds behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton. And Ricciardo, who crashed during qualifying and suffered from technical issues during the race, was unable to pinpoint the reason behind their lack of competitiveness, which only grew into a larger deficit as the weekend went on.
“First practice (+0.6s off Hamilton) we looked pretty competitive and we were still keeping a few things to ourselves,” he said. “So like from that point of view it was like we were pretty solid.
“And then if we calculate everything, the tyres, the fuel loads, because in FP1 we only had a super soft, if we add all that up then we have actually gone slower than we did in the first free practice.
“That is not accounting for any track evolution, which normally you get on a street circuit. So it feels like we lost performance, but at the moment there is not like a clear answer why.”
When he was made aware that the complaints about the chassis echo those aired during their tumultuous 2015 season, Ricciardo believes that the far from ideal testing period, which was itself interlaced with nuances, is largely to blame for the situation that the team find themselves in.
“There is still a bit to learn with the car and package, and I just don’t feel that we have had enough quality time to get on top of it,” he added.
“We had some days in testing but there were some days a bit interrupted with this and that. We probably had two or three really good days out of the 8.”