Red Bull hit problems once again in Bahrain today as Daniel Ricciardo’s running was cut short by what the team called a previously unseen mechanical issue.
The Australian had logged some useful mileage in the first half of the day, although his best lap was 6.5s off the frontrunning pace.
“It was going OK,” said Ricciardo, who remains optimistic. “I did some good laps and those came off the back of the more than 50 laps Seb did yesterday, so we’re getting there. Obviously, I would have liked to do more this afternoon but we still have tomorrow ahead of us and it’s important to be ready for that. The car is definitely making progress though. It’s coming together bit by bit.
“We’d love a big chunk all at once but obviously that’s not the way these things work, so we have to be a bit patient for now. However, it is coming and we’re heading in the right direction. Tomorrow it would be nice to get more laps in and then roll on next week.”
Meanwhile RBR’s Race Engineering Co-ordinator Andy Damerum said: “After yesterday’s good work we had another positive period overnight with the car build, which we’re getting quite good at, and it looked good this morning. We were focused on short runs for Daniel, as the car feels very different to the one we had in Jerez, and we wanted to build things up gradually for him.
“We made more changes over lunch and in doing so we came across a mechanical issue that we hadn’t encountered before, and because of its nature it means we have to take the car apart. As everyone in the pit lane is finding out this is a long process, so we decided to suspend running in the afternoon so that we can be ready for the final day. These issues are of course frustrating but this was unrelated to the others so it’s just a case of tackling each issue as it appears.”
Adrian Newey admits that even Red Bull Racing is struggling to prepare for the huge rule changes coming for 2014.
He joked that the team still needed six months to prepare for the first race.
“I think from our perspective it’s somewhere between mild panic and crisis management,” said Newey at the Autosport Awards on Sunday. “Next year’s regulations are a huge change, a very complicated power train. I think for a lot of teams, including ourselves, it really is a big challenge.
“Reliability could be a big issue, it’s far from clear how the three engine manufacturers will perform relative to each other. We’ve got the aerodynamic changes. So it is a complete clean start, unfortunately. All we can do is do our best and see where we are, that’s the only thing we can do.
“I think there’s some trepidation. I think the engine regulation changes are a big challenge for everybody, how that will pan out, who knows? We’re all sort of feeling it is going to be mildy difficult, and we are about six months off being prepared for the start of the season. But that is the nature of F1. Somehow or other it always seems to be alright on the night, hopefully. We’ll see.”
Perhaps not surprisingly he countered suggestions that the sport’s recent era was not a good one.
“I think it’s been a great few years. You have the combination of man and machine as always. Unfortunately, or fortunately for us, Sebastian made the second half of the year slightly boring, but you go back to last year, six winners in the first six races I think [actually seven]. The variety, the overtaking, it’s been a magic time.”
A winner in Monaco in 2010 and again last year, Mark Webber is looking forward to returning to his favourite street venue next week.
Like everyone else Webber is eager to find out whether Mercedes can maintain its pole streak.
“It’s always been a good circuit for me,” said Webber. “In F3000 I won there, and I’ve had a couple of wins in F1. I think I had good street circuit experience in Adelaide GP Formula Ford, Surfer’s Paradise Formula Ford. I think I’m comfortable on street circuits. Well, those type of street circuits, I can’t translate it to Singapore yet, I don’t know why!
“I don’t know what makes me feel as comfortable as I do round there. It’s still a daunting place, don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting here saying you’re on holiday round there – it’s a very, very challenging venue.
“If Mercedes have their one lap pace it might be interesting, if they bang it up the front there again.”