Daniel Ricciardo insists that Red Bull Racing remains confident that it will get on top of its early season problems and catch up with more reliable rivals by the time the 2014 F1 campaign starts in earnest.
The Australian was again forced to cut short his first day of testing in Bahrain, this time with an issue that the team had not come across before, completing just 28 laps while the majority of other drivers on track managed at least double that number. However, despite the obvious frustration, he maintained that no-one was beginning to lose faith in the RB10 and its new Renault power unit.
“Of course we would have liked to have done more laps but it's okay, it's getting there,” he said, “It's more than I did in Spain, and [team-mate] Sebastian [Vettel] did nearly 60 yesterday, so we're building them up slowly. We had a mechanical issue this afternoon, so we decided to call it off for the day and get it fixed for tomorrow, and hopefully we'll get a full day's running then.
“Obviously, the team are staying confident and optimistic with the design of the car. We don't know how fast we are yet, but I have full confidence in how the cars been built and I'm sure it'll be quick once we're up to speed. They're obviously hoping it's going to happen sooner rather than later and, although it doesn't look like we've made massive progress, we have.
“We've still got five days of testing and, if we make another 50 per cent step, it's good. Even if the first four or five races didn't go to plan and then we go and win the next ten, who cares? Obviously, we want everything to be running well in Melbourne, and we'll stay optimistic until after the race on Sunday.”
With Red Bull only managing 21 laps in total across the four days at Jerez, Ricciardo remains painfully short of laps with his new team, which is firmly under the microscope despite each of its rivals also suffering teething troubles with its new car and the 2014 regulations.
“More laps are always going to help and, tomorrow, we're hoping we're going to get a few more than today,” he repeated, “The more laps I do, the mope comfortable I'll feel. I still haven't done that many to build on top of everything, but each lap I do is getting better.
“Mechanically, you feel a bit less downforce [with the 2014 car], but it's not a world of difference. It's just managing how the new power units are working, trying to understand that a bit better from a driver's point of view. For the aero guys, we're still learning even if we're not on full power or lapping at rapid pace, and they're still getting a lot of information bit by bit. It's been a long process up to now, but there's still money going in the bank, so to speak. A few more laps and it'll be okay.”
Asked whether Friday's problems marked a new setback for the world champions, Ricciardo insisted that bringing the RB10 up to speed was not going to be a quick project.
“I don't know about two steps backwards as, from Jerez, we've definitely made progress,” he stressed, “We knew it wasn't going to happen overnight. We've had a few weeks now before this test but, coming here, we knew it was still going to take some time. I think we're making the steps we needed to make – obviously, it's still not enough - but we're getting there so, hopefully, tomorrow, next week and coming into Melbourne, we should be on a good level.
“I'm not going to say we're going to come out and... I've got to do more laps first. It's a big challenge for everyone - it was never going to be easy for the top teams or the others, but I'm sure, when Melbourne comes around, I'm definitely going to be ready for it. We have to stay positive that we can figure it out and get on top of it. Yes, there are teams doing many more laps than us for now, but we'll make the time back, I'm sure.”