Daniel Ricciardo is convinced that Red Bull will be closer to Mercedes in the 2015 Formula 1 season because the champion team will have reached a point of diminishing returns.
Mercedes was better prepared for 2014’s major F1 technical regulations change than its rivals, taking 16 grand prix wins and a commanding constructors’ championship while the previously dominant Red Bull team had to settle for just three victories.
Red Bull’s winter had been disrupted by severe reliability problems for its engine partner Renault. Ricciardo believes his team therefore has much more scope for making strides in 2015, whereas Mercedes is much closer to the maximum possible under the current rules and will not be able to extend its advantage.
“I’ve got faith we can close the gap,” said the Australian. “Looking back at Melbourne, we missed all the testing and we got second [before being disqualified] – or at least we were up the front.
“Obviously Mercedes continued to get stronger, which is not what we were hoping. I would like to think that now that they have caressed that pinnacle and we feel we have a lot more to gain.
“With a strong winter, which is pretty much inevitable, we should definitely close the gap. I have faith that we can do something to close it.”
Ricciardo emerged as Red Bull’s team leader during 2014, overcoming four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel. But while he beat Vettel in the results, he admitted that the German began with seniority in the team due to his greater experience and longer relationship with Red Bull.
With Vettel moving to Ferrari and the inexperienced Daniil Kvyat graduating from Toro Rosso in his place, Ricciardo acknowledged that his status at Red Bull would be different in 2015.
“I definitely feel a bit more responsibility now that I am the older guy in the team,” he added. “With the relationships I have made [in 2014], it is easier for me to share my input, speak to the big guys. We know each other better and it is just natural that that evolution happens.
“I will be busy over the winter and for the team’s sake I want the car to be as quick as possible. I will do whatever I can.”
Originally on Autosport.com