SHANGHAI, China -- Daniel Ricciardo says the Red Bull's lack of rear downforce is visible when comparing on-board footage of his laps with those of the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers.
Despite high expectations ahead of the season, Red Bull emerged as the third fastest team at the opening round in Australia with a significant gap to the front. Although the RB13's Renault power unit is lacking performance to its rivals, Ricciardo believes the aero package -- which has historically been a Red Bull strength -- is a key area where the team is lacking.
"I think for me at the moment we don't have enough rear grip, so downforce basically," he said. "But to be honest, I don't know if it's we don't have enough or we just haven't set the car up in the right way. So I still feel like we haven't got the most out of the downforce but in Melbourne if I watch some onboard of Ferrari or Mercedes it just looks like they have more rear grip for now. So probably we don't have as much as them, period, but I don't think we've understood it enough yet to get the most out of it. Obviously with set-up, ride heights and things like this.
"I say we probably haven't found the right set-up but we've had enough time now, so I'd say we're still lacking and I would say it's a bit of overall downforce. At least for me as a driver that's what I feel for now and when I watch the onboards that's what I see, but more than that I'm not sure. Whether it's geometry and that of suspension, that's probably beyond me, but as a driver I feel that the rear could be stronger.
"For me and probably for Max as well we just felt like looking at the Ferrari and Mercedes we couldn't really attack the corner as much because they just seem more planted at the rear. Even the high speed, we can kind of match them in the high speed but I feel like me and Max are like this more than they are. There was an onboard that came out from I think one of Kimi's best laps in testing and at Turn 3, I think all the top teams are doing Turn 3 full and he didn't even use all the track, he didn't even let the car run out to the end. We were like: 'Wow, he's got some downforce'. It's something we probably knew early on and that's probably an area we're going to work on for now."
Ricciardo is hoping a series of aerodynamic updates for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix will start the process of closing the gap to the front.
"I definitely believe we learned some stuff from Melbourne and we've got some bits and pieces here -- some aero stuff -- that should help us have a bit more grip in the car in the rear. But there's a few more things that came out which I don't expect to be as far off as we were in Melbourne. I feel like I come here with a bit more of a comfortable car.
"There's a few things even which we've probably gone back a little bit to a similar thing to last year with a few things on the set-up so it should be something that I'm probably more used to, for both of us. So I think from a driver comfort point of view we should be better off, hopefully that means faster as well, but I think it should be more familiar for us with some changes we make."
Asked about how much time Red Bull was losing due to its power unit, Ricciardo added: "I could say no bigger than it has been in the past. I don't feel we're at more of a deficit now, but obviously we want to be closer. For sure, we want to be closer, but we're not worse than we have been.
"We're probably losing out in straight-line speed, I think to Mercedes we calculated about 0.4s in qualifying just on the straights and Ferrari was maybe 0.2s. So for sure we are still slower than they are but I don't think that's related to set-up or car balance."