Sebastian Vettel admits Red Bull can't yet match speed of testing front-runners
"Speed is not there compared to some other teams," Seb says
By Mike Wise in Bahrain and James Galloway. Last Updated: 03/03/14 10:33am
Sebastian Vettel has conceded that Red Bull aren't currently in a position to match the outright pace of the pre-season front-runners and first have to solve the "bigger problems" afflicting their RB10 in the lead up to Melbourne.
Although yet more unreliability in the form of a front-brake failure struck their troubled 2014 car mid-way through the final day of testing in Bahrain, Red Bull at least finished what has proved a desperate winter on a more encouraging note as Vettel clocked their highest mileage count for a single day - 77 laps.
Yet, despite their mileage increasing on Sunday, Vettel still only finished ninth out of 11 drivers on the final timesheet with the German's best lap of 1:37.468 a massive four seconds slower than the benchmark set by Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes.
And asked at the end of day if he was concerned by the pace deficit seen to the likes of Williams and Mercedes in Bahrain, Vettel admitted: "We are. It's not a secret.
"For sure we cannot do the times that the guys at the top of are doing for a couple of reasons but at the moment we have bigger problems to solve than just the pace."
Red Bull's problems marrying their RB10 to engine supplier Renault's power unit has been well documented throughout testing with both parties running into regular reliability problems.
Red Bull couldn't complete an uninterrupted race simulation
The issues have curtailed the World Champions' winter mileage to little over 1,500km - some 3,000km less than title favourites Mercedes - but Vettel insisted F1's dominant team of recent season weren't feeling downhearted.
"Everybody's fine," the German insisted.
"It's quite a difficult time because it's a difficult car to work on and you can see as well for the other teams, if you have downtime depending on where the damage is, where the problem is it's a big job to repair and fix it. That's why it takes a long time.
"Yesterday two issues were bad enough to basically stop us from running the whole day. Today we had some problems but were running for the whole day, so it just shows how different every day can be. But I'm happy we did a lot of laps."
After his astonishing winning run at the end of 2013, Vettel is technically chasing a record tenth straight victory in Australia in two weeks' time, but Red Bull's dismal pre-season form has made such a landmark unlikely.
The driver himself, whose team are staying on in Bahrain to complete their two permitted 100km filming days for the season, is refusing to make predictions for how the RB10 will fare on the streets of Albert Park.
"It's very difficult. Obviously I'm not calling ourselves the favourites for that, we haven't done enough laps," Vettel added.
"The speed is not there compared to some other teams so we have to wait and see when we get there."