Daniel Ricciardo believes Red Bull will return stronger than ever after its disappointing 2015 campaign.
Amid the backdrop of struggles with Renault, and uncertainty over its future, the team failed to win a race and finished fourth in the constructors' championship.
But having made big strides with its chassis, Ricciardo thinks the outfit is well placed to hit the ground running as soon as it gets hold of an engine that allows it to challenge the dominant Mercedes.
“I think the first six months of the year were a bit of a reality check for all of us,” Ricciardo told Motorsport.com.
“It was one of those things where it wasn’t just happening anymore. We had to find an alternative, or find something else, or keep working harder.
“It was good for me to go through that as a driver and experience a few more of the lows, after all the highs.
"As a team, I thought it was a really good turnaround. It could have dragged them down, but instead, from mid-season onwards the car just came to life.
“It was impressive how everyone kept it together. I think it’s made us stronger, and I think when we get the equipment again – the full package – we’ll kill it.”
Long term recovery
Although Red Bull has hopes that the input of engine guru Mario Illien can help Renault move forwards in 2016, Ricciardo suspects it may take longer for his team to be properly back on top.
“It’s a long shot next year, to be honest,” he said.
“It should be a little bit better, but to get on Mercedes’ level, realistically we’ll probably have to wait until 2017. But you never know.
“You never know what can happen. This year we nearly got a win or two, so you don’t know. But we’ll play it down for now.”
However, Ricciardo thinks that the progress made on the chassis front this year should put his team in good stead already.
“There can still be improvements, and the way that the team improved it in the space of a season, with an off-season we can make a good step,” he said.
“The others should be wary about circuits with a lot of corners.”
Interview by Andrew van Leeuwen at Perth Speed Fest