Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo has given the clearest indication yet that Red Bull is beginning to set its sights on winning some races this year as a principal target, given that with over a quarter of the season gone, Mercedes is still over a second faster than them.
Speaking after qualifying in third place in Barcelona, 1.053s slower than pole sitter Lewis Hamilton, despite bringing a raft of updates to the chassis and Renault power unit, Ricciardo said that he was surprised to be so far behind.
Team mate Sebastian Vettel had more bad luck, breaking down at the decisive moment in Q3 and then requiring a gearbox change which means he will start 15th on the grid.
There was a clear sense of disappointment at Red Bull that on a track like Barcelona, which does not have hugely long straights like the Tilke-designed tracks in Asia at the start of the season and which is aerodynamically dependent, Red Bull had not closed the gap and in fact if anything, the gap has increased slightly between Mercedes and the reigning champions.
The team is almost 100 points behind Mercedes in the Constructors Championship and Vettel and Ricciardo are 46 points and 55 points respectively behind in the Drivers’ Standings. It makes one wonder whether, given this cold shower on its hopes at the fifth of 19 races, Red Bull has to reset its targets.
That certainly seems to be what Ricciardo is suggesting,
“That’s what we have to set our sights on – to at least have a genuine chance to win a race, that is what we have to ask for,” Ricciardo told Network 10 TV Australia after qualifying. “The championship, as early as it is, it’s a long way off, in terms of what we are capable of.
“Even for us to start winning races, they (Mercedes) are still likely to be the next best team, so the points gain wouldn’t be that much.
“The Championship is probably aside for now.
“But if we can get on the stop step of the podium that would be an awesome achievement.
“(We had) Quite a few updates for this race and we hoped it would have put us closer to Mercedes, but they have obviously found something as well. But the European season will be interesting; now the rate of development will start to ramp up.”