Former F1 driver Mark Webber says Red Bull should not be judged by its low-key pre-season with the RB13 as the team has never been interested in winter "shadow boxing".
With 2017's rule changes shifting the focus back on aerodynamics, many expected to see Red Bull pursue an aggressive rate of development through pre-season. However, the team brought a limited amount of new parts for the RB13 and struggled with a series of reliability issues with its Renault power unit.
Instead it was Ferrari who stole the headlines over the two weeks in Barcelona but Webber, who drove for Red Bull between 2009 and 2013, thinks it would be wrong to write off the former world champions at this stage.
"When the grandstands are empty Red Bull are never interested in getting involved in the shadow boxing," Webber told ESPN at the launch of Channel 4's F1 coverage for the 2017 season. "That's typical of Red Bull, I wouldn't read anything into winter from them. Unfortunately the mileage wasn't great, that's the only thing we can read into that, pace-wise it's impossible to read anything.
"They need to do a phenomenal job on aero to claw back the engine performance of the opposition, Ferrari and Mercedes. I think all will be revealed as whether they've done enough with the car to challenge for pole and front rows and win the start and control the race, which is going to be a tall order but totally possible."
Though many were interested by Ferrari's very impressive headline times in the second week, Webber thinks the smoothness of the Italian team's winter hints at how the operation is performing away from the race track.
"Ferrari were the surprise, even though there was shadow boxing to a degree, operationally they look very good. I know it's a boring to talk about but it's a huge component to getting big points on the board. They look relatively stable there... It only takes one thing to get screwed up in the first race but they look pretty good and that's on a match with Mercedes in terms of reliability, by the looks of it at the moment, so that's a huge feather in their cap."