Red Bull looks set to start dead last on the grid for its home race, the Austrian Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring, next weekendas the team acknowledge that they have taken a step backwards compared to 2014.
The embattled energy drink owned team has acknowledged that, after burning through unreliable Renault engines early this year, grid penalties for fitting unscheduled fifth units will inevitably strike.
It was suggested that a good place to begin taking the pain would be in Canada, where Red Bull knew it would struggle but the Montreal layout would at least provide an opportunity to fight back with overtaking moves.
But even though Red Bull owns the ‘Red Bull Ring’ and promotes its Austrian home race, it appears the team has decided next weekend is strategically better for Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat to serve penalties.
In Canada, Red Bull was badly off the pace, and the finger was squarely pointed at the performance of the Renault engine.
“In terms of the engine,” Helmut Marko told Auto Motor und Sport, “we are in a worse position even than last year. The GPS comparisons on the straights are frightening.”
Indeed, while every other major team improved between Canada 2014 and Canada 2015, Red Bull actually took a step backwards to the tune of half a second per lap.
It means Red Bull’s best hopes for a decent result in the near future lie in Hungary, on the tight, twisty, Monaco-like Budapest circuit.
“It will be probably our strongest track for the year,” said team boss Christian Horner, “so it is important that we start as high up as possible.”
Before then, however, F1 will travel to Austria, and so Horner said taking a tactical penalty there makes the most sense.
“We must expect that we will be on the last row of the grid,” he is quoted as saying, adding that Ricciardo and Kvyat may also be penalised further if they cannot serve their full penalties by qualifying in the top ten.