Sebastian Vettel says his world champion Red Bull Racing team are playing catch-up ‘in a lot of areas’ after pre-season testing ended on Sunday night.
The four-time world champion managed 77 laps on the final day of testing before the first race in Australia in three weeks time, but it wasn’t without drama.
On his final day of testing in Bahrain, Vettel was prevented from completing his first full race simulation at the wheel of the RB10 by a suspected brake failure, which pitched the German into the gravel, leading to a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Vettel took over from team-mate Daniel Ricciardo on the third day of the third test, but failed to complete a lap when the troublesome new car lasted just four corners before stopping out on track.
The team got the car back later in the day, but it barely managed 100 yards before breaking down again, leaving Vettel stricken at the wrong end of the pitlane.
Worryingly for the team, they are yet to complete a full race distance, with their next opportunity to run the car being the first free practice session in Melbourne at the first race of the season.
“We did a lot of laps so that was useful,” said Vettel after the test finished. “We tried to do a race distance but for one reason or another that didn’t work out, but in two week’s time things should look a little bit different.
“Obviously it’s difficult to know where the car is. It’s not just the number of laps you do, but also the type. There are so many different running options, not just with tyres and high or low fuel, there are engine options as well - full power, low power etc, so it’s impossible to say where we are. “We know we have to catch up in a lot of areas, but that said, I’m happy.
“We did a lot of laps, we learned a lot and it was a positive end to a tough week here.”
Over the course of the 12 days of testing, the Tilbrook-based team completed just 1,711km - only Lotus and Caterham completed less mileage, while title favourites Mercedes were able to complete nearly 5,000km.
Ricciardo also struggled to get the most out of the new car, but did manage 66 laps on day 2.
He said: “We still have a lot to learn and understand, but we’re making progress and the past two days have been a big step in the right direction.”