Daniel Ricciardo insists that there are no bad losers in the Red Bull Racing camp, despite claims that the team is acting just a little spoilt as its run of title success recedes further into the past.
With its Renault engine largely uncompetitive against the similar new-era V6 turbos of Mercedes and Ferrari, RBR has found itself in the awkward position of having to search for a powerplant for 2016, having been spurned by the 'big two' and seemingly burned its bridges with some ill-advised public criticism of its French partner. With a deal seemingly hard to come by, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has touted the threat of withdrawal, adding to the widely-held impression that RBR is handling its recent spell of adversity badly.
Ricciardo, however, begs to differ, claiming that the team retains its usual spirit and motivation, and is doing all it can to get back to the top of the pile.
“Some fans see it as being spoiled because, now we aren't winning, we are complaining,” the Australian commented, “but I don't think it is excuses - we just don't like losing.
“The team got used to winning for four or five years but, for me, that's a sign of a true team. You do become addicted to the success and you are not happy when you don't have it. The mechanics are all competitive - they do training and they run nearly every night around the track, so they already have that aspect in them. It is just a good bunch of people, very feisty and very competitive to succeed. Maybe the image of Red Bull as well, I don't know how to describe it, but the image of the brand… you always want to be the best.”
With the 2015 F1 titles already long since settled in Mercedes' favour, Red Bull is currently mired in fourth place in the team standings, 71 points behind Williams and 60 ahead of Force India, with Ricciardo engaged in an intriguing intra-team battle for seventh overall with Daniil Kvyat just four points ahead of him. While there may not be much silverware on offer, the three-time race winner insists that there is no trouble anyone getting up for the fight.
“I still see everyone motivated,” he maintained, “I am still motivated and, while it is a bit more sad leaving on a Sunday night and not having a trophy to show for it, I think we can reset quickly.
“We come to each race with the same motivation and I am still excited. It is hard to come to a race and not think we are going to win, but I think you then set yourself other challenges to keep you motivated. We have got challenges now to keep fourth in the constructors' and for me to keep finishing in front of Daniil.
Mateschitz's threat to pull RBR out of F1 could have longer-term threats for both Ricciardo and the other Red Bull drivers, but the Aussie, while not being able to offer concrete assurances, is optimistic that a deal will be sorted to keep himself and the team on the grid.
“There are no developments yet and that is the truth,” he insisted, “The longer it gets, the more difficult it becomes, but I probably have more confidence that we will be on the grid than I had before. I believe we will be there because everyone wants to be. It's just knowing what we are going to be there with...”