Formula 1 - Red Bull denies staff exits have hurt

Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has denied that the exit of leading technical staff is behind their poor start to testing.

The champion team was at the foot of both the timesheets and the lap count at the end of the first week of 2014 testing at Jerez.

An assembly error that delayed Sebastian Vettel's emergence on the opening day, and myriad issues with both the Renault engine, its control systems and its installation in the RB10 meant Red Bull had to stop running early on the other three days, completing just 21 laps over the week.

Alarm bells ringing at Red Bull

Red Bull's chief aerodynamicist Peter Prodromou agreed to join McLaren last year, with former head of vehicle dynamics Mark Ellis and chief simulation engineer Giles Wood then leaving for Mercedes.

But Mateschitz was adamant the staff changes have nothing to do with Red Bull's current plight.

"The current problems arose from the engine side and not from our team, which still has the high-level know-how it needs," he said.

The 69-year-old has traditionally spent a day watching winter testing since first joining F1 as Sauber's main backer in 1995.

His arrival in the Jerez paddock on Thursday coincided with Daniel Ricciardo stopping on track on his first lap as a Red Bull race driver.

"These teething problems came as no big surprise," said Mateschitz.

"We had expected a difficult first test and now the problems have to be fixed for the Bahrain test."

He added that technical chief Adrian Newey had assured him that the RB10 "is more than just state-of-the-art".

Red Bull RB10 technical analysis

'NO REASON TO WORRY'

"However, the truth arrives when we are all on the grid in Melbourne," Mateschitz said.

"It is up to us and Renault to solve the problems and get ready.

"There is no reason to be worried yet."

Mateschitz believes Red Bull could afford a potential bad start to the season and still come out on top in the title race.

"To be behind at the season's start does not necessarily mean you lost the championship already," he said.

"You still have a chance after a few bad races in the beginning."