A boost from new engines could power the Red Bull Formula One team up the rankings later this season.
Red Bull has suffered against the efficiency and acceleration of Mercedes that has propelled Lewis Hamilton to the world championship.
But engineers have calculated however well the Red Bull team drives, they still have to make up the lack of between 35 and 50 brake horse power in their number one rival’s cars.
The new engines are expected to arrive by the Canadian Grand Prix in June.
The real difference is tests show the power plants add 0.45 seconds to the Red Bull average lap time.
Fractions make all the difference
Although measured in fractions, this small improvement is crucial to the drivers.
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo beat Nico Rosberg of Mercedes off the grid and led the recent Chinese Grand Prix until a puncture forced him to retire.
In qualifying, he was 0.52 seconds off Rosberg’s pole position time.
Worryingly for Red Bull, they were further off the pace in this season’s other races in Australia and Bahrain.
Red Bull F1 cars are powered by Renault engines. The team has suffered since F1 rule changes allowed turbo hybrid engines, but the impending upgrade is expected to put them back on an equal footing with Mercedes.
Stopwatch doesn’t lie
Renault is keeping quiet about the new engine specs. They have yet to announce how many brake horse power will push the cars around the grand prix circuits or to go into details about any other refinements.
“Whatever is under the hood, we should cause a bit of mischief on the tracks from the Canada race in Montreal onwards,” said Red Bull team chief Christian Horner.
Renault and Red Bull have a chequered history as F1 partners. Last season, Red Bull threatened to split because of problems with Renault engines and the French firm’s continual consistency in breaking promises over delivery of upgrades and performance guarantees.
Horner has refused to comment further on the relationship.
“Red Bull and Renault can say what they like, but the real test of the cars and drivers is the stopwatch. Times never lie and the new engines have performed well in practise, but we have yet to see what they are like on a live race track,” he said.