WHO ME?: Daniel Ricciardo says it's the Red Bull car and hot him that's to blame for the team's poor start to the season.
WHO ME?: Daniel Ricciardo says it's the Red Bull car and hot him that's to blame for the team's poor start to the season. SRDJAN SUKI

Ricciardo blames the car not the drivers

DANIEL Ricciardo has heaped pressure on Red Bull, insisting he's in no way to blame for the team's poor start to 2017.

The team has struggled this season as Mercedes and Ferrari engage in what's so far been a two-horse race.

Ricciardo failed to finish the Australian Grand Prix, came fourth behind teammate Max Verstappen in China and was well off the pace in Bahrain, crossing the line in fifth.

Verstappen's car broke down in Bahrain and he could manage only fifth in Melbourne to start the year. One podium in the opening three races is not what F1 fans were expecting from the team that finished second in last year's constructors' championship.

A lack of power in the new RB13 has been the major culprit in Red Bull's slow start, and Ricciardo reinforced that by saying he wasn't prepared to accept the blame for a poor showing thus far.

"No, nothing's missing in the driver. I haven't forgotten anything," Ricciardo said at a press conference in Sochi ahead of this weekend's Russian Grand Prix.

"I think just with the car. We know that we can do better, I guess. I think we'll see that in Barcelona.

"I think the team's learned a lot from the past, from testing but also the past few races and also with our feedback, myself and Max's feedback. I think we've been targeting the same things and I think now the team has really understood the point on the car to work on, to focus on and that's why now they're bringing this update for Barcelona and that's as soon as it can come.

"It takes time to build the parts, basically, and then to put them on the car. They test them and then it takes time for the development and all the process but from Barcelona we should be good. From a driving point of view I feel good, very good."

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said last week a major chassis revamp can be expected in time for the Spanish Grand Prix, while engine supplier Renault is also planning to deliver an upgrade in time for the seventh race of the season in Canada.

While expectations may be low in Russia after being as much as 1.5 seconds slower than Ferrari and Mercedes at times in 2017, those in the Red Bull garage need to provide Ricciardo and Verstappen with the necessary tools to challenge the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, and they need to do it soon.

Ricciardo says he hopes to sit behind the wheel of a "bullet" in Barcelona, but is wary of assuming that will be a fait accompli. Publicly announcing what he wants to see in Spain means his engineers are under pressure to deliver the Aussie and his Dutch colleague extra pace, particularly after the team has already said significant changes are afoot.

"I expect ... I'll use the word hope, not expect. I hope for a bit of a bullet - something fast," Ricciardo said. "We want to be in a three-way fight with Ferrari and Mercedes. So that's what I would hope for, something that puts us in that fight.

"I look back at last year and think here (Sochi) in qualifying we were over 1.5 seconds off pole and then we went to Barcelona and we were about half-a-second off pole and we made some gains and then obviously in Monaco we were quick. It's a time of the year where we should start to see these updates take place and some performance really start to come out of the car.

"I'm hopeful of that. We just need a bit of everything now. We've talked a bit about downforce, feeling a bit in the rear. We've had a bit of time to look at Ferrari - they've been in front of us for a few races and we can study them for a lap or two before they get too far away and they look strong.

"Mercedes as well - they're just carrying a bit more grip in the rear and that's where all the lap time is in these cars these days."

Ricciardo says if Red Bull does see an improvement in Spain, then hopefully it can develop into a real threat in the championship race.

"I hope so. I'm confident it's going to be better than what we've got now and for now that's all we can ask for is an improvement," he said. "A bit like last year - we made that step and were able to just keep chipping away at it. I think to make that first step is important.

"I believe we will get that in Barcelona and then let's see where it puts us. If it puts us within half-a-second, then I think we're in striking territory soon after that."


News Corp Australia

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