Daniel Ricciardo thinks it will not be a disaster for Red Bull if it is beaten by sister team Toro Rosso early on this season, because he knows his outfit's potential to recover is massive.
And that has left Ricciardo admitting that it would not be a huge shock if Red Bull is on the back foot early on.
"I think if we're to start with very little improvement from last year, I think Toro Rosso will be competitive in relation to us over the first few races," explained Ricciardo, during the Red Bull livery launch in London on Wednesday.
"It's not impossible that they come out ahead of us. But I think as the year goes on, we've got more room for development and improvement, and obviously we're the bigger team.
"If we start now in front of them, I think that's a really good sign - but I wouldn't be too discouraged if they come out ahead of us in Melbourne."
No high hopes
Ricciardo said that downbeat predictions for the start of the campaign were sensible, after the disappointment that came over previous season amid Renault engine struggles.
"Rather than getting us excited for nothing - or potentially for nothing – it will be a bonus if we come out in Melbourne and everything is a lot better than we thought," he said.
"If we come out in Melbourne and Christian [Horner] and everyone is like 'oh, the power unit is awesome, the aerodynamics, the everything' and then it doesn't work, it's demoralising."
Speaking about Horner's talk of a poor start with rapid recovery, Ricciardo said: "Obviously I believe him when he says it and it's realistic that we will need a bit of time to make strong improvements from last year.
"But for me, obviously last year I got used to that in a way and I got sort of... not comfortable with that, but more understanding about the situation.
"I'm still looking at my my targets long-term as well and that's still to be world champion, still to keep myself in prime condition, both on and off the track. I still have a lot of motivation."
Additional reporting by Valentin Khorounzhiy