Red Bull has been warned it faces "difficult times" due to a collective of issues working against the team in its early-season battle with F1 rival Ferrari.
Reliability is the first major concern as it has already suffered three failures across the first three grands prix. In comparison, there were no official retirements last year on that front.
With Charles Leclerc winning two of the three races, finishing second in the other and collecting all three fastest laps, the Ferrari driver has already opened up a sizeable cushion to the chasing pack, with Max Verstappen 46 points adrift.
Speaking to Servus TV, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said: “There are two or maybe three different things at play.
“First, the reliability problems, which we hardly had last year, but the lag behind Ferrari was also alarming.
“They just controlled the pace and did that without graining [the tyres]. If Max stepped on [the power], Leclerc could easily react.
"We were surprised by the speed of Ferrari. They had almost no graining which we had after a few laps. Ferrari can more easily find a good balance with the car.”
Red Bull's weight problem
A secondary problem for Red Bull is the weight of its RB18 as the packaging of the car following the introduction of the new aerodynamic regulations has resulted in it being one of the heaviest on the grid.
“We are clearly heavier than the Ferrari,” added Marko. “I think we have a weight handicap of about 10 kilograms. Converted to lap time, that equates to about three tenths per lap.”
Trying to shed additional kilos is not a simple solution as Marko said: “Lowering the weight is expensive.
"To start with, it's a financial issue and secondly it is also related to reliability, so it is a difficult split due to the budget cap.
"We are facing difficult times.”
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