Four-time reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel expects to be driving a “very different” Red Bull RB10 this weekend compared to what he experienced in pre-season testing.
The German and his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo have struggled in the off-season with the RB10 encountering several reliability issues, limiting the squad to just 1711km of running in 12 test days.
As a result, Vettel has revealed the car he will be driving for this weekend’s Rolex Australian Grand Prix will have significant upgrades.
“It will be a very different car for us,” he said.
“We have had a lot of problems in the tests, so we didn’t get to test a lot of stuff.
“We hope to do some more running here, then we should be able to put the parts on the car that we think will be better for overall performance.
“I think this will be the same for all of us.”
Red Bull’s form has seen the multiple world championship winning squad lower their expectations for the season opener, with the team focussing on ensuring their cars for Vettel and Ricciardo reach the finish.
Regardless of the performance level in Melbourne, Vettel is adamant the team will get on top of the RB10 and its troublesome Renault engine package during the season.
“It is difficult to have any expectation coming into the race but it is a long season,” added Vettel.
“I will be going hard here. I will be pushing to the maximum and will do the best I can and we will see where we are.
“The target for sure is to finish and in the best possible position. I think we are a strong team and confident we will progress.”
Red Bull’s rivals are expected to roll out differing levels of upgrade packages for tomorrow’s first practice in Melbourne.
The typically cagey Fernando Alonso is insisting that his Ferrari will be much the same as the car that took part in testing, while Mercedes Lewis Hamilton admitted that his pace leading Mercedes will have minor changes.
Kevin Magnussen meanwhile confirmed that the McLaren, which appeared to lose competitiveness as the three pre-season tests unfolded, will also appear with uprated parts.
“We have a got few bits to put on the car,” said the Dane, who will be making his F1 debut this weekend after winning last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 Championship.
“The whole of testing we ran the launch car and was behind a little bit on development but the car feels good.
“If you didn’t know the lap times of the other guys then you would think it is fast. It is a good sign.
“If we can just add a bit of downforce to the car I think we can be in a good position. The team have come off a difficult season and they are massively motivated.”
See below for the comprehensive Speedcafe.com F1 guide to the Australian Grand Prix