With his best result in the opening stint of this campaign being two P6s, Daniel Ricciardo concedes Red Bull are "much worse off" than they were in 2014.
Although last year they failed to secure a fifth Drivers' or Constructors' Championship, Ricciardo was at least able to fight for podiums and even the occasional race win.
This year, though, P6 has been his best result.
He achieved that in Australia but was a lap down on race winner Lewis Hamilton and did so again last time out in Bahrain. However, under the lights he was only 62 seconds down the road.
"Last year we came in with less expectations, so this year we expected more after 12 months' running with the car," Ricciardo told The Age.
"We're much worse off than where we were this time last year, which is what's made it hard to take."
He added: "It's not too, um, riveting at the moment.
"Bahrain was our best weekend so far, but even when things are running well, we seem to be quick enough to keep the guys behind us pretty easily, but not quick enough to catch the others. I'm racing by myself mostly; it's been pretty lonely out there."
Fighting just for points-finishes, the 25-year-old admits that is not what he wanted from this year's Championship.
"It's not how I want to go racing, but it's what I've got at the moment.
"I'm not kidding myself in that I know I won't be fighting for a win, but it doesn't change the approach. If you see a car in front of you, you try to pass or stay with him and create an opportunity.
"Even if they're quicker, maybe something happens in their pit stop, or his tyres degrade faster than yours. It's more difficult when you're not fighting right up the front, but you need to keep a bit of hope."
Having taken over the mantel of defacto team leader, the Aussie is determined to keep spirits up at Red Bull Racing.
"I feel as though I have a bit more of a role this year in trying to keep the guys together," he explained.
"I can have more influence on everyone's mood, and reiterate that 'you guys are four-time champions, we'll get back to the top'. It's a fine line, because at times you want to have a bit of a tantrum.
"But I'm aware what that would look like, and it wouldn't help. Everyone knows the situation we're in, so there's no point me putting fuel on that fire."