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Red Bull fear the gap to Mercedes will not be reduced easily but target Europe for turnaround

Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday 6 April 2014.

Reigning world champion team Red Bull is hoping to be at least within reach of dominant Mercedes in the space of a month, but they do acknowledge that there will not be a quick fix to close the gap.

After controlled race victories for the German squad in Australia and Malaysia, the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg pushed each other hard in a long wheel-to-wheel battle out the front in Bahrain.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said it was “the first time we saw [Mercedes’] true potential”, amounting to a two second per lap advantage to the rest of the field.

He warned: “In China, Mercedes are again going to be very difficult to beat given the kilometre long straight. But then once we get back to Europe we need to start making inroads into them.”

F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Practice

The team’s Helmut Marko, referring to the subsequent Spanish Grand Prix in mid May and beyond, agreed: “Our hope is that we are at least within reach by Europe.

“You need a good engine in Bahrain,” he told Austrian Servus TV, “and China will also be difficult with two long straights. But in places like Barcelona and Monaco, the chassis has more importance again.”

Marko hailed Mercedes’ advantage at present, “Through their ingenuity and a much longer-term preparedness, both us and Ferrari have a lot to do to even come remotely close to them.”

“This will be a process that will not be achieved by a stroke of genius,” he added.

Formula One Testing, Day One, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Tuesday 8 April 2014.

Ferrari, who alongside Mercedes and Renault is the other engine manufacturer in Formula 1, is also pushing to improve.

The works team’s Fernando Alonso, who is testing in Bahrain this week, said: “We have the resources and the potential to do it. We have a very aggressive [development] programme, which we need.”

Ferrari customer Sauber agrees that Mercedes’ rivals need to work hard to catch up.

“In Bahrain it was obvious that one of the three manufacturers has a huge advantage regarding the powertrain,” said chief engineer Giampaolo Dall’ara. (GMM)

Subbed by AJN.