Marko: This is a very, very serious thing and we don’t know if we will catch up at all

Red Bull mechanics did a lot of pushing in Bahrain

Red Bull mechanics did a lot of pushing in Bahrain

Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko is not sure the world champion team will catch up its early-season deficit in 2014, after a disastrous start to its latest title defence, even before the first round of the season proper has started.

Speaking to Red Bull’s in-house Servus TV network, the always-blunt Austrian admitted the reigning world champion team is months behind its rivals.

“The season opener is coming at least two months too early for us,” Marko said on the Sport und Talk programme. “We are not where we should be.”

He said the biggest problem is that in 12 days of pre-Melbourne testing in Spain and Bahrain, Red Bull turned significantly fewer laps than any other significant rival.

Formula One Testing, Day Three, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday 1 March 2014

Helmut Marko

“This is a very, very serious thing,” said Marko. “At the moment we do not know what period we will need to catch up, or whether we will at all.”

However, it may not be all bad for Red Bull, as even pacesetters Mercedes are expecting reliability – not speed – to be perhaps the most important factor next weekend at the season opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

“I believe that half the field will not finish,” said Team Chairman Niki Lauda, “simply because there has not been the opportunity for enough testing.”

But, unfortunately for Red Bull, the Renault-powered RB10 is not just unreliable.

Red Bull mechanics retrieve the stricken RB10 during Bahrain testing

Red Bull mechanics retrieve the stricken RB10 during Bahrain testing

“The Red Bull does not look good,” an experienced source, trackside in Bahrain last week, was quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

“Nothing seemed right – the coordination of engine, gears and setup did not fit together. Sebastian (Vettel) was always sliding and spinning his wheels, while the Williams was like [it was] on rails,” he added.

The car is also significantly slower in a straight line than its Ferrari and Mercedes-powered rivals, and Renault is taking some of the blame for that.

“Melbourne will be an anxious weekend,” admitted their technical boss Rob White.

“I hope we can support our teams and drivers to explore the performance of the car and allow the race to deliver its sporting verdict.” (GMM)

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