Daniel Ricciardo insists Red Bull can still challenge in Australia after latest woes
Overheating issues strike World Champions again at final test
By Mike Wise in Bahrain and Pete Gill
Last Updated: 28/02/14 5:19am
Already lagging far behind the Mercedes runners in terms of established pace and reliability, the World Champions fell further adrift on Day One of the third and final pre-season test as Ricciardo was restricted to less than 40 laps in the fragile RB10.
Yet, according to the Australian, the team still believe they can be competitive when the new campaign begins in two weeks' time despite the RB10's longest on-track stint this winter being just 12 laps.
"We are still confident we can be up there," the ever-smiling Ricciardo told reporters. "It's clear that we are probably not going to go to Melbourne and dominate, but it's still early days.
"The morning was definitely better, we made progress and the whole package was working better before we hit problems - but today was definitely the most productive since the start of the year.
"Testing hasn't been perfect, that is for sure, but we are getting there. There's many boxes to tick and we are slowly ticking them."
Such an upbeat assessment of Red Bull's progress this winter is not widely shared in the paddock, however, with Sky Sports F1 pundit Ted Kravitz warning the World Champions face the ignominy of an early exit from Qualifying One in Melbourne unless they can find a cure for the RB10's litany of problems during the remaining three days of pre-season testing.
"It's still not enough laps but we are going in the right direction," added Ricciardo. "Last week, we were doing stuff we wanted to do in Jerez, and this week we are doing stuff we wanted to do last week. So we are definitely not up to scratch in terms of where we want to be.
"In terms of our power, we definitely made a step forward this morning. If we can work on this over the next three days, it would definitely help us for Melbourne. We are staying positive and optimistic. Each day we can learn a lot and there are still a fair few of them before Melbourne so we'll be alright."
Ricciardo will continue in the RB10 on Friday before handing over the car to World Champion Sebastian Vettel for the final two days of winter testing.