Melbourne: Red Bull's Sebastien Vettel has swept four straight Formula One titles but a comprehensive shift in technical requirements threatens to leave him trailing when the season starts on Sunday.
A disastrous pre-season has left even the upbeat Vettel fearing the worst at this week's Australian Grand Prix, after the decade's dominant driver was just 18th fastest over four days of testing in Bahrain.
"First of all, just getting to the finish would be a success," the 26-year-old German grumbled to Servus TV. "If half the drivers fail to finish, then maybe we could take a few points." (F1 2014 season: New engines, fuel limit head list of changes)
Chief among Red Bull's problems is the change from 2.4-litre V8 engines, whose distinctive high-pitched whine has been the soundtrack of Formula One, to turbo-charged 1.6-litre V6s.