Daniel Ricciardo will head into the new Formula 1 season with few expectations and no assurances over the updates provided to Red Bull by engine supplier Renault following a difficult 2015 campaign.
Ricciardo scored just two podium finishes last year as Red Bull spent much of the year struggling to match its rivals for pace, largely thanks to the issues with its power unit.
Renault will continue to supply Red Bull this year, albeit with power units rebadged as TAG Heuer, and expectations at the team are for a better quality of engine that can propel both Ricciardo and teammate Daniil Kvyat up the grid.
When asked by MotorSportsTalk if Red Bull could take hope from Ferrari’s turnaround in fortunes and progress with its power unit between 2014 and 2015, Ricciardo said the team could, but with some caution over the promises made by Renault.
“I think we can. I guess the question is when. I’d like to think by the time we get to Europe we should be pretty competitive,” Ricciardo said.
“Getting a lot closer to Ferrari and ahead of Williams, but it’s one of those things.
“Last year we were supposed to have updates pretty regularly and they didn’t come on time, and when they did come they weren’t really giving us what we wanted.
“For that, I’m going to be quite reserved with my expectations. I think realistically it has to be better and I think it will.”
Ricciardo did tentatively set his sights on taking a fourth grand prix victory across the course of the 2016 season, feeling that Renault has more room for improvement than its rivals.
“At the end of the season, a victory,” Ricciardo said when asked what he hoped for in 2016.
“I’d love to say more but one would be a good start. Last year we just got two podiums. One victory should then mean a few podiums along the way. Victory in Monaco would be alright.
“Don’t get me wrong, a win is what I’d hope for. I say that thinking the season is long. If it comes, I don’t think it’s going to come straightaway. I think it has to be better, it’s just how much better again.
“First few races, I think it’ll be more or less like last year, but once we get into the European season we should start to really develop more. There’s a lot of room for improvement with the power unit, more than I believe Mercedes or Ferrari have.
“For that, if we can get the right sort of ingredients behind it, we should see a bigger step. I think it will come. We’ve obviously had a few years now of these power units so whatever got misunderstood last year, I think there’s been enough time to understand it for this year.”