Christian Horner and Daniel Ricciardo have acknowledged that the early stages of the new Formula One season are likely to prove tough for Red Bull, but both men hold optimism for the second half of the campaign.
Ferrari are expected to offer the strongest threat in 2016 to Mercedes - the dominant winners of the last two constructors' titles.
Red Bull, who will run TAG Heuer-branded Renault engines in 2016, appear set to find podium finishes tough to come by initially, with team principal Horner acknowledging patience will be required.
"I think it will be a season of two halves," Horner told Omnisport ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
"The first half of the year is going to be about damage limitation and then as the upgrades come in to the TAG power unit for the second half of the year, we're hopefully going to see the performance really start to move significantly forward.
"I think Mercedes, you can forget about. They'll be the team to beat and well gone. Ferrari will probably then be in an area of no-man's land but I think that fight for third in the constructors' championship is going to be a huge battle this year."
Ricciardo, who will be racing on home soil this weekend, echoed Horner's views.
The Australian told Omnisport: "I think in the first few races we won't be in reach, but hopefully by mid-season to the end we can start to put a bit of pressure on [Mercedes and Ferrari].
"We know this year is not really going to be an assault for the championship but hopefully it puts us in good shape for 2017. Really the last half of the year is where we want to see some serious results.
"I think for the team we would love to try and crack back into the top three in the constructors' championship and for me I would love to get back in the winners' column.
"If I could grab a victory this year that would definitely make me happy."