Mark Webber’s Red Bull team has no chance of winning this year’s Formula One championship, according to legendary racer Nikki Lauda.
The triple F1 world champion believes that, already, Red Bull’s campaign has been cruelled by reliability problems.
In the Bahrain season-opener, Sebastian Vettel was leading the race before a spark plug fault on the 33rd lap cause a dramatic loss of power that saw him eventually limp home in fourth place.
Last week in Melbourne, the German was comfortably leading the race before veering off the track and stranding his car, due to a wheel issue.
“There must be consequences,” Lauda told the German newspaper Bild.
“Two races and two victories lost because of technical defects. Red Bull can forget the title,” he said.
Webber, though, is confident of improving on his ninth place at Albert Park.
“After the disappointment of Melbourne, the Malaysian Grand Prix can’t come soon enough,” Webber said.
“We proved at Albert Park that the RB6 has great potential, but we didn’t get the results that the car or the team deserved. We want to put that right this weekend.
“I really like Sepang. It’s mix of high, medium and slow-speed corners should suit the RB6 and I expect us to be competitive.
“We might be left a bit out of breath along the circuit’s three long straights, but the car’s excellent aero should make up for that through the corners.
“As was the case last weekend, we’ll be watching the weather at Sepang. April is the wettest month of the year in Kuala Lumpur, so we’re likely to get some wet running at some point.
“Following last year’s washout, the organisers have brought the race’s start time forward by an hour, to 4pm, and we’ll have to hope that that’s enough to let the race run its course.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner is also confident his cars will recover from the Melbourne debacle.
“We know we have got a fast car and I would far rather have a fast car than a slow car,” Horner told the London Sun.
“We’ve had two pole positions and should have been sitting on 50 points, but Sebastian is sitting on 12.
“But there is still a long way to go and the season will have many different twists and turns.”