Red Bull Racing have admitted that they need to 'work like hell' if they are not to be left behind in the fraught battle over fourth place in the 2008 Formula 1 Constructors' World Championship, following a nightmarish qualifying session in Valencia.
The Milton Keynes-based outfit has been lacking for pace all weekend around the new, harbour-side Juan Carlos I Marina circuit that will host the European Grand Prix – battling with only the Force Indias for company during Friday practice. With Mark Webber and David Coulthard lining up respectively 14th and 17th on the grid, some way from the leading pace, the story was little different in qualifying.
“We've struggled for speed for most of the weekend,” Webber related on his second-worst starting position of the 2008 F1 campaign, and his first time outside of the top ten since Bahrain all the way back in April.
“It's a new venue here, which brings variety to the positions, but we don't seem to have the pace we had a few races ago, which is quite frustrating. There were a few laps I was pleased with, but we didn't make it through to Q3.”
“I expected to be able to make it through that first part of qualifying,” added Coulthard, who has now fallen at the initial hurdle three times in twelve outings in 2008. “On my last run, I ran wide in turn five and dropped about four tenths; although I pulled two tenths back, the net loss over the whole lap meant it wasn't enough to go through. It's just the way these qualifying sessions go. That was probably one my messiest sessions and I'm disappointed.”
With the scrap over fourth spot in the constructors' title chase as finely-poised as ever, and none of the four teams seeming to be able to consistently emerge ahead from one race to the next, the energy-backed squad's team principal Christian Horner admitted the odds are now stacked against RBR.
“A very disappointing qualifying,” the Englishman concluded. “We seem to have struggled for pace here all weekend – despite having been very fast in the last sector – and it's frustrating for the drivers to finish in 14th and 17th.
“An incident-filled race is the only way we're likely to achieve any points this weekend, so we'll wait and see. Congratulations to Toro Rosso, who got both their cars into the top ten for the first time.”
“A bad day and a bad result,” agreed Renault's principal track support engineer Fabrice Lom. “It was a bad beginning to the week with the plane crash in Madrid and the death of Dino Toso, chief aerodynamicist for Renault, which puts things in perspective.
“Life goes on, though, and coming back to our present work, we have to work like hell now to bounce back from here. We already need to be thinking about the next race in Spa.”