APRIL 9, 2017

Red Bull gap not easy to close says Verstappen

Red Bull's drivers admit it will take time for the team to get close to the top two teams in 2017.

Red Bull's drivers admit it will take time for the team to get close to the top two teams in 2017.

If the pecking order was unclear after Melbourne, the 1.5 second gap from the new Red Bull to the much-faster Mercedes and Ferrari is now fairly obvious in China.

But the biggest worry is that Red Bull does not really know what the problem is, with a lack of both grip and Renault engine power both obvious.

"We're not going to make this up overnight," Max Verstappen said in Shanghai.

And Daniel Ricciardo, 'best of the rest' behind the two Mercedes and Ferraris in qualifying, agreed: "We need a few really good upgrades.

"I feel better in the car and it was easier to set up, but I'm still too slow.

"The balance is good and I can attack, but in the end we are missing 1.5 seconds.

"I said in Melbourne that we need more rear grip, but I'm afraid that here we're also missing front grip. We can no longer say that it's the setup -- at most there are two more tenths there.

"We're missing much more than that," said the Australian.

Verstappen continued: "We have no balance between slow and fast corners, we need more grip, and we lack power.

"This is not a job from one race to another. And it will be difficult to catch up because the others are moving forwards too with these new rules."

So Ricciardo agrees that Bahrain will also be a tough weekend for Red Bull.

"Bahrain is only in a week and there's not much going on between here and there," he said.

And Verstappen warned: "In 2016 we didn't start perfectly, but we did know what to do."

Red Bull's situation has surprised the entire paddock, and not just because part-time designer Adrian Newey is a renowned expert at making the most of new rules.

"They invented these rules," Mercedes' Toto Wolff is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport, "so it is a surprise to us that they are so far away."