Sebastian Vettel has admitted that Red Bull Racing is playing catch-up ahead of the 2014 season opener in Australia, adding that there will be plenty of work to do when the race weekend kicks off at the Albert Park Circuit.
The Milton Keynes-based outfit suffered a number of frustrating reliability issues at all three pre-season tests, meaning the RB10 could only complete 319 laps over the 12 days.
While problems with the new Renault V6 Turbo power-unit hampered the team’s running, its 2014 challenger also experienced packaging and overheating issues. Looking ahead to the first race of the year, Vettel says it is difficult to predict where the team will sit in the competitive order.
“We didn’t do as much running as we would have liked in testing this year, so we have work to do in Melbourne, but it will be good to get to the first race,” said the four-time world champion.
“It’s hard to know where we are; it’s fair to say that we’re not the favourites to win and we have to catch up with others that have completed more mileage, but we’ll do our best with the great people that we have working for the team. We have achieved a lot together and I know everyone is working flat out as normal.”
New team-mate Daniel Ricciardo is looking forward to his first home race as a Red Bull Racing driver. “I’m very, very excited about the new season,” said the 24-year-old. “It’s always good fun going to Melbourne, it’s a great city and I like racing on street circuits. The Albert Park track is very bumpy and you have to contend with all the road markings – when it’s wet those are very slippery.
“It also has some really good changes of direction with right-left, right-left turns in rapid succession. Full-time racing circuits tend to be very smooth and have plenty of grip. You don’t get that with a street circuit: at the start of the weekend they’re pretty dirty and gradually they clean up as cars sweep the racing line and put down rubber in the braking zones. It’s nice to feel the track evolve underneath your car and know that it’s going to get quicker throughout each session. Albert Park always tends to be a pretty exciting race.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic