Christian Horner, the boss of Red Bull Racing, has played down hopes that his team will challenge Ferrari and Mercedes at the front of the pack in the 2019 Formula 1 season opener in Melbourne this coming weekend.
The Austrian team were a distant third behind the leading duo in the 2018 season. They have since switched engine suppliers from Renault to Honda and are tipped to make a major stride forward this campaign.
However, Horner insists that a big gap still remains between his team and the ‘Scuderia’ and ‘Silver Arrows’ just days before the Australian Grand Prix.
“We’ve got an exciting new partnership with Honda starting this weekend so it’s off to a positive start but we have to keep expectations realistic,” he said at the F1 season launch at Melbourne’s Federation Square on Wednesday.
“There’s a big gap to close from Mercedes and Ferrari. But we’re confident that we can do that during the course of the year.”
Dutchman Max Verstappen, 21, is now Red Bull’s leading driver following the departure of Daniel Ricciardo to the Renault works team, while Frenchman Pierre Gasly has graduated from the Toro Rosso team to fill the Australian’s seat.
“It was very nice to experience the car, with the new partnership with Honda,” Verstappen said of pre-season testing. “It’s very exciting times for us.”
Gasly, who had two crashes during testing as he got up to speed with the RB15, said he still had plenty to learn as he embarks on his second season in Formula 1.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” he said at the launch. “It’s probably the best place to be in Red Bull, with (these) guys next to me.”
Schalke coach won't resign despite embarrassing defeat
Schalke. FC head coach Domenico Tedesco will not throw in the towel and remains resolute despite the club's embarrassing 7-0 defeat away to Manchester City on Tuesday evening.
The Royal Blues bowed out of the UEFA Champions League in emphatic fashion, having headed to the Etihad Stadium with a real chance of causing an upset following a narrow 3-2 defeat in Gelsenkirchen.
But the wheels came off in Manchester as Schalke slumped to the joint-worst defeat in the knockout stages of the competition and their worst defeat in European competitions.
A 10-2 aggregate scoreline makes for rather grim reading, but Tedesco is determined to continue giving his all in an attempt to ignite a turnaround in fortunes for the club.
"I haven't given a second thought to changing anything on my side," said the 33-year-old in the aftermath.
"I am proud, even now, to be coach of Schalke 04. Even in these difficult times, I like being here and giving my all."
He continued: "I'm extremely disappointed. We fell apart. It was the worst we've had here since I was coach.
"Of course it hurts. It's difficult when you lose 7-0 to stand here. The next couple of weeks are going to be difficult."
The German club currently sit in 14th place on the Bundesliga standings, a mere four points above the relegation zone.