Red Bull team principal Christian Horner wants to give Mercedes more of a run for their money in 2015 after launching the new RB11 on the season’s first day of testing in Jerez on Sunday.
Sporting an unusual camouflage livery, the Red Bull completed more laps in the first hour on track than they managed on the first day of a disastrous first test last season.
That was a sign of things to come for the four-time constructors’ champions as despite finishing second they were nearly 300 points behind Mercedes, for whom Lewis Hamilton sealed his second world championship.
“Our target is simple: to close down the gap to Mercedes yet further,” said Horner.
“We were the only team other than Mercedes to win a grand prix in 2014 and we won three with Daniel Ricciardo. Our target is to close the gap down and put Mercedes under as much pressure as we possibly can.
“We know what we’re aiming at, we know what we need to achieve and I believe that with the RB11, with the drivers we have and with the new structures put in place we should be able to do that.”
Ricciardo’s debut season with the team was the bright spark in 2014 as he beat out four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel to finish third in the drivers’ standings.
With Vettel having moved on to Ferrari, 20-year-old Russian Daniil Kyvat will partner Ricciardo this season.
“It’s an exciting and dynamic line-up,” added Horner.
“We know the quality of Daniel following his performances last year and in Daniil we have an outstanding talent. The speed, commitment and determination he demonstrated were all the qualities we’re looking for.
“They’re young, hungry, they’re incredibly quick and I think they are going to push each other very hard throughout the year.”
Ricciardo was given the honour of driving the new car on Sunday and is determined to not rest on his laurels after a breakthrough year.
“I’m looking forward to driving the RB11 and I’m hanging out to get behind the wheel again. I hope it’s going to be a beast,” he said.
“There was plenty of pressure on me last year to prove myself in a top team and I think everyone knows now what I’m capable of so I’m excited to build on what we achieved in 2014 and ready to give Mercedes a good fight.”
Kyvat has just one full season of F1 racing under his belt, finishing 15th in the drivers’ standings with Toro Rosso in 2014.
And, whilst he recognised the demands will be much higher at Red Bull, he refused to set any tangibile targets for the new campaign.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for me and I’m really looking forward to finally getting into the car. It’s going to be cool.
“Though many people in the team know me quite well, there is still the challenge of entering a new team for myself.
“I haven’t really set any targets for 2015. I just want to keep doing the best job possible with hard work and the right attitude and that’s the best thing I can do.” – Agence France-Presse