Despite only launching its 2018 challenger yesterday, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has already indicated pessimism about its chances of toppling reigning champions Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport.
Speaking in the wake of a shakedown test for the new RB14 at Silverstone, Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko has expressed fears that Mercedes could extend its power unit advantage over the field.
This comes in spite of the fact the Milton Keynes-based outfit has unveiled its car earlier than usual; with the team historically preferring to limit its releases to a publication of rendered images.
Despite the apparent progress of having a functioning chassis on-track more than a week ahead of the team’s usual timeline, Marko continued to express his doubts about the Renault power unit.
The French marque’s deficits to pacesetters Mercedes in performance and reliability has been one of the central themes of the hybrid era and led to an acrimonious dispute between Renault and Red Bull in 2015.
Speaking to Auto Motor und Sport, the Austrian explained, “The [Renault] engine should be more reliable and more powerful this year, and we will have a competitive chassis from the beginning, but Mercedes is building a new engine. It might be that their advantage will then be even bigger.
“If the [Renault] engine lives up to the promises that have been made, we should definitely be closer to Mercedes. We saw that we always came up to speed in the second half of the season, and the analysis showed that we always finished the car too late.
“It doesn’t make any sense if you find a couple of hundredths of a second in the last 14 days. It is more important to be well-prepared for the season.”
The Red Bull RB13 was at a power deficit throughout last season to Mercedes and Ferrari, albeit the team were also at an uncharacteristic shortfall in downforce throughout some uncompetitive opening races in 2017. Chassis improvements in the latter part of the season allowed Max Verstappen to collect a pair of dominant race wins in Malaysia and Mexico.