Red Bull expecting 'signficant step' from 'massive' Barcelona upgrade

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Red Bull expects to make a "significant step forward" with a "massive" upgrade due for the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

Red Bull has fallen short of pre-season expectations that F1's new rules, which have shifted focus back towards aerodynamics, would re-establish the team as title contenders. Instead it finds itself third in the pecking order and 55 points behind championship leader Ferrari, though the Bahrain Grand Prix suggested it has started to claw back some of its deficit to the front.

While some of that gap can be traced to Renault's early problems with its MGU-K, Red Bull's motorsport consultant Helmut Marko says the team's chassis is also to blame -- though he promises a new-look RB13 for the race in Barcelona.

"We have two problems: Renault had some reliability issues, which have slowed them down in the development; and we didn't deliver the chassis that we should have done," Marko told the F1 website. "But we are working day and night to pick up our shortcomings. We are pretty optimistic that we will make a significant step forward in Barcelona where a big change of parts is coming. So sometimes patience is the best virtue a driver can have!"

When asked if the expected upgrade is 'massive', he replied"Yes. The chassis will be 'revamped' in Barcelona and Renault is planning something for Montreal."

Bahrain marked the first time Red Bull had qualified in front of one of the Ferraris, something Daniel Ricciardo managed by pipping Kimi Raikkonen to fourth on the grid. Max Verstappen and Ricciardo had looked well-placed for a challenge in the race, before a brake failure took the former out of contention and Ricciardo struggled with his tyres in the middle stint.

Marko is optimistic Red Bull is closing the gap and says the opening races prove it has already drastically improved the RB13 that arrived in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix.

"Let me get our pace history straight: in Australia we were 1.8 seconds behind, in China it was 1.3 seconds and in Bahrain something in the range of nine-tenths. So we are improving and step by step closing the gap -- but it is, of course, not enough.

"And looking at qualifying where the cars show their sheer speed, we know that Mercedes has a qualification mode -- and to a certain extent also Ferrari -- and that helps them a lot. And by constantly closing the gap to them I would say that the direction we are moving in is promising. And as you don't get any points in qualifying, it is good news that in the race we are usually stronger if problems don't stop us like on Sunday when Max suffered a brake issue."