Renault has turned down the performance of its troubled \'power unit\' as it stands on the cusp of an embarrassing run of F1 grid penalties.Drivers powered by the French engines are rapidly running th

Renault has turned down the performance of its troubled 'power unit' as it stands on the cusp of an embarrassing run of F1 grid penalties.

Drivers powered by the French engines are rapidly running through their allocation of four units for the whole 2015 season.

So when asked about the performance of his turbo V6 in Barcelona, Daniel Ricciardo forced his customary smile as he quipped: "Let's just say it's not very scary."

Renault is having to openly admit that, now a quarter of the way into the season, is still has not solved a fundamental problem with the pistons.

"We will run with conservative settings until we get to the bottom of it," the marque's Remi Taffin confirmed to Auto Motor und Sport.

But Renault is not Red Bull's only problem. On Saturday, to the delight of his countrymen in the grandstands, Carlos Sainz outqualified both Red Bull cars.

And so did his Toro Rosso teammate Max Verstappen.

"It's not good for us to be half a second behind the Toro Rosso," Ricciardo admitted. "That's not just (because of) the engine."

Earlier in Spain, Christian Horner extolled the "masterpiece" that is Red Bull's new ultra-short nose, but "It's hard to say something positive when you're two seconds off the pace", Ricciardo insisted.

Indeed, at the Red Bull junior team, Sainz was delighted with his Barcelona feat, but also "a bit baffled".

"We should not be ahead of them," he told Spanish reporters. "They will come back and improve and be back where they should be."

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko is furious with the situation, F1's regulations and Renault, but he said one bright spot is the shining form of his rookies Sainz and Verstappen.

"I received a lot of criticism for believing in them," he beamed, according to El Confidencial.

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