Renault’s Remi Taffin has said that the French manufacturer is a month behind its rival Mercedes, with Red Bull Racing’s Adrian Newey adding that, as a result, it will be “extremely difficult” for his team to catch Mercedes before it’s too late to save the championship.
“We can clearly see that we are something like a month behind, ” said Taffin in the Bahrain paddock yesterday. “During the winter I would say (we were) a month or two (behind).
“We really need to focus on this,” he added. “Obviously the fact that we have these back-to-back races is not that easy. Having three days to prepare the next race is very difficult.
“I think we are managing the situation well and we can clearly see the progress on track. But there is a long way to go.”
Asked about the pressure he and Renault are getting from Red Bull, Taffin said: “I have to be honest; there is a lot of pressure.
“But it’s not like either one is putting pressure on the other, we are working like a team, it’s just that when you are in F1 there is always pressure; you are there to win and you can’t stand losing.
“We have won so much, we know how to win. It’s frustrating when you are just missing this and this.”
Taffin confirmed that Renault has brought new V6 power units to this race for two of its teams – Red Bull and Toro Rosso.
Although all F1 power units were homologated in February and since then performance developments have not allowed, fixes for reliability are permitted and the new Renault units feature a new shaft in the Motor Generator Unit K, which harvests energy from the brakes as well as a new oil system for the turbo and stronger exhaust.
Red Bull’s technical leader Adrian Newey said that they are still some way off the pace: “From a performance point of view we’re clearly giving a lot away on the straights still. But there’s a lot of development to be had.”
Mercedes was 1.1 seconds faster than Red Bull in the qualifying simulations during yesterday’s Free Practice 2 in Bahrain. When pressed on whether he felt that Red Bull and Renault would be able to catch Mercedes before it is too late to compete for the championship Newey said: “I think it’s going to be extremely difficult is the honest truth,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “The gap we have is buried in the power unit and it’s difficult for us to get on top of that quickly.
“We can try to do our side on the chassis but then we rely on our partners Renault do their side on the power unit. We can see where we are strong and weak. We are competitive in the corners but lacking on the straights.
“I’ve been in the sport for many years and I’ve been through the peaks and troughs. This is part of the cycle.
“When we were winning I always maintained that you don’t stay on top for ever and that has been the case.”