Red Bull: RB14 giving nothing away in corners
Red Bull says GPS data from pre-season testing in Barcelona showed its RB14 chassis is "absolutely ahead" of its Formula 1 rivals this year.
The team enjoyed a strong pre-season in 2018, and race drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen have been upbeat about the progress their team has made this winter.
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko went as far as to suggest that the RB14 chassis is class of the field, telling Motorsport.com: "We know that our chassis is absolutely ahead on the GPS data and so on.
"There's a problem with the engine," Marko added. "It is difficult to even begin to achieve the excellent Mercedes performance that has been delivered."
Speaking to Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview, team boss Christian Horner reckoned that the team's 2018 car as as strong as any on the grid in terms of corner speed.
“I think it is difficult to draw too many conclusions but I don’t think we give anything away in any of the corners we looked at in Barcelona," Horner said.
“And if you went out and had a look on circuit, it was evident that the car looks well poised.
"It is a well-balanced car. You can see the car is exuding confidence in the drivers – and these cars are now seriously quick.”
Horner also noted that a change of policy to release the new car early has left Red Bull "better-prepared" than ever in the turbo hybrid era.
He continued: “There is a real optimism about this car. It responds well. It is giving the drivers good feedback and it is a great starting point as we go into the season.
"We know where our deficiencies are to our opponents, and we just have to compensate in other areas.”
Engine supplier Renault has already made clear that its focus at the start of the season will be on ensuring reliability is perfect – even if it has meant sacrificing some performance.
The fact that Renault does not appear to be at Mercedes and Ferrari power levels has left Horner cautious about the chances of a championship challenge – even though he thinks there will be weekends when the team can fight for wins.
When asked if be believed the chassis could overcome any power deficit, Horner said: “Over a season I don’t think so. But I think there will be some circuits where we will be stronger than others.
“Our focus is on dealing with the bits that we can control, maximising our own performance, our own reliability, and grabbing opportunities when they present themselves.”
Horner thinks it may not be until the Spanish Grand Prix in May, when Renault could choose to introduce its second power unit of the year, that the team may be in a position to get on even terms with Mercedes and Ferrari.
“I think the first three or four races are all very power-sensitive tracks and they are going to be pretty tough for us,” he said.
“It is probably not until we get back into Europe and whatever they have with engine two, that one would hope that the gap will diminish.
"China/Bahrain/Melbourne, they are all quite big engine circuits, so we are really reliant on our colleagues in Viry coming up with something.”
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