Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull could challenge Mercedes and Ferrari during the second half of the year.
Red Bull Racing failed to win last season and had to make do with just three podiums - two courtesy of Ricciardo - but after a more positive pre-season, the Australian is optimistic about the prospects for 2016.
“You get an idea, you definitely get an idea [of the order from testing]. I guess I've driven a few years now in F1 and I know what a good car feels like so at least with us I know... at least from testing I can take out that our chassis is pretty good. What's still an unknown is what Seb [Vettel] and Lewis [Hamilton] are saying. Are they hopping out of their car saying this chassis is a lot better than last year's as well?” Ricciardo pondered ahead of his home grand prix.
“I still expect them to be the front runners, Ferrari and Mercedes, at the start of the season but me knowing what I know from previous years, yeah, I think we've started off with a good chassis and as we've done in the past, we can keep improving that.
“If we can improve that, along with the power unit this year, then by probably the second half of the year we should be able to maybe challenge them but again, it is still really guesswork, it's not like numbers, it's not like they all add up to a victory at the end of the day. It's still a bit inconclusive until we get going, probably the first four or five races.”
Ricciardo also conceded that Red Bull's pace in qualifying is not likely to be as strong as it is on Sunday's.
“Yeah, I think the long pace will be better for us. The short runs are going to be a little more... I think in qualifying we're probably not going to be a strong but long runs we should be good. Let's see what happens. I don't know, time will tell,” he continued.
“I've been answering these questions all week and you can't really answer them at the end of the day. On Sunday everyone will see where the real pace is, including us.”