A seventh place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix was as good as Daniel Ricciardo could muster as Red Bull Racing fell further back off the F1 pace.
Just five races into the 2015 season, the Tilbrook team are close to writing off the season already after a torrid start sees them comfortably behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams in the early running.
Ricciardo’s seventh in Barcelona, a circuit known to be a strong marker for a car’s overall performance, was as good as the team could achieve in another fairly anonymous weekend for the former world champions.
Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat only played out a handful of laps in the free practice sessions on Friday - worried their fragile Renault engines would take a hit if they were to run longer.
Concentrating on performance rather than pace left Kvyat eighth and Ricciardo 10th on the grid for Sunday’s race.
Ricciardo’s race was a lonely one. Picking up positions in the early running, he settled into his pace and came home seventh without a lot of drama to speak of.
It was a frustration for the Australian though, who won three races last season, with upgrades for the RB11 failing to live up to expectations.
He said: “There were some parts of the race that were encouraging but we’re still further off than where we want to be, but we’ll keep pushing.
“We came here with upgrades this weekend but they didn’t give us what we were expecting, so that’s something we’ll keep working on.
“We’re still a fair bit behind Williams at the moment but I think we have a good chance to close the gap a bit further in Monaco.”
Kvyat went the opposite way off the start though, and found himself battling for the lesser points at the end, picking up just one for 10th.
“We need to improve the car in every area at the moment,” he admitted. “On the positive side, both our cars finished the race, which is good on the reliability front. This was a bad day for me.”