Red Bull buoyed by potential of new engine

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Already riding high after their race-winning success in Spain with new recruit Max Verstappen, the Red Bull Racing team is sounding even more positive when it comes to the new Renault engine that might put them on an even footing with Ferrari and Mercedes.

Daniel Ricciardo is the first driver to get the new power unit - Verstappen will be upgraded in Canada - and the Australian ended up six tenths faster than anyone else in Thursday's free practice sessions, a formidable performance that startled many sections of the Monaco Grand Prix paddock.

"At the more sensitive circuits it should be up there," said Red Bull Racing chief engineer Paul Monaghan, confirming reports that the new unit is expected to be up to half a second a lap faster than the old one.

"It’s correct at circuits that are more sensitive to engine power – Canada, Spa, Monza – and less so at circuits which are less sensitive to engine performance, which would be here."

"Where will it put us? We’re only ever measured relative to our opposition, so if they all stand still there’s a chance we’ll be very close if not ahead of Ferrari.

"Given that they won’t stand still, it’s hard to say that we can be ahead of them, but I think it’s fair to say we’ll be more competitive, we’ll be challenging them and if the opportunity comes we’ll challenge the Mercedes as well.

"What’s within our control is to maximise the performance of our car and if we do that then the resulting position is just a consequence of our relative pace to our opposition."

Monaghan added that it wasn't just engine power that was behind the much faster lap times seen in Thursday's free practice sessions.

"The majority of the increase, certainly at this track and thinking about it, the ones we’ve visited thus far, have come from the tyres. We are two steps softer than we were last year here. You’re going to see some improvement from that as well."

And of course there's the small matter of the new driver element that's been added to the team.

"Impressive, wasn't it?" Monaghan said of Verstappen's winning début with the team two weeks ago. "Max displayed a great level of maturity, he was very calm in the car, nothing fazed him, he settled in very quickly.

"I think we’re blessed with a very good chassis this year, which makes it easier, I think, to learn than perhaps a more difficult one and Max did a very assured job. It was fantastic."

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