Daniel Ricciardo says the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix will be the true test for Red Bull Racing to determine whether it can now be considered a regular contender against Mercedes and Ferrari this season.
Despite initial pessimism pre-season, the former title-winning team is enjoying an upturn of form in 2016 after a difficult 2015 campaign that yielded no race wins for the first time in seven years.
With the Austrian company already back to winning ways courtesy of Max Verstappen in the Spanish Grand Prix and coming close to success at the most recent Monaco Grand Prix with Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull is increasingly being considered a formidable contender one again.
Though the characteristics of the Monaco circuit was always expected to play to the strengths of the Red Bull package, the introduction of a significant Renault engine upgrade is raising hopes it will be the key in returning it to the front fight more consistently.
Indeed, with Red Bull enduring one of its toughest race weekends in Canada last year, Ricciardo sees this year's event as a test to determine whether it can be quick everywhere.
“I think Canada is going to be interesting,” he said. “It's still a street circuit but there's a long straight and it's a bit more of a horsepower circuit. I think that will be a sign; if we can be quick, then I think we can be quick really for the remainder of the season. If we can fight for a podium in Canada then we should be able to fight everywhere else.
Reflecting on his missed opportunity in Monaco knowing it was always expected to be a strong event for the team, Ricciardo is looking forward to what could unfold in Montreal.
“We knew this track would be an opportunity for us to win but we'll have a better idea really how competitive we can be, not only on these type of circuits but all the others.”
Red Bull Racing agreed a new engine supply deal with Renault over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend that will see the two parties work together until the end of the 2018 season.