A team that, not so long ago, has won four Formula 1 consecutive world championships has every right to be confident that its slump may be temporary.
Red Bull Racing have been under-performing for the past two seasons.
This can indeed be discouraging for both the team, but when it comes to its engineers, its drivers and even its management, maybe they are right when they claim that they grind their way back to the top and challenge for the top spot on the podium.
“I think the first six months of the year were a bit of a reality check for all of us”, said Ricciardo. “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.”
“As a team, I thought it was a really good turnaround. It could have dragged them down, but instead, from mid-season onward, the car just came to life.”
Their mid-season improvement was more than obvious. You didn’t need to look at the standings or check the numbers in order to see that the cars were quicker and the drivers were a lot more comfortable with the performance and aero package.
“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.”
What he means is that they might start winning races again, which is a high goal but, considering the personnel, budget and the amount of talent they have behind the wheel, is certainly possible.
Ricciardo knows they still won’t be on the same level as Mercedes, no matter how much they improve. “It’s a long shot next year, to be honest. 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.”
If Formula 1 becomes a lot more competitive in 2017, something everyone is hopeful will happen, perhaps 2016 will be considered an interim year. Yet, we wouldn’t mind if RBR, or any team for that matter, could raise its game and stop Mercedes from making another walk in the park the entire year.
Story references: motorsport