Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has admitted that the team will find it tough to defend both F1 world titles for a second consecutive season, but insisted that that was the aim for 2012.
Sebastian Vettel's second title came hand-in-hand with another constructors' crown for the Milton Keynes-based operation, as it enjoyed a dominant position at the head of the sport, taking twelve victories in 19 races and claiming pole at all bar one round. However, despite that record and knowing that it will have an unchanged line-up next season, Marko insists that defending the championship will not be an easy proposition in the face of renewed competition from McLaren and Ferrari.
"We want to defend both titles, but we are also aware that it will become even more difficult," the Austrian told the official F1 website, "It is confirmation of our, well I wouldn't call it dominance, but our ability to win. The main ingredients have been in place for a long time, so why should 2012 be any different? You need a fast car, you need consistency and you need two drivers who can deliver."
Marko also admitted that Red bull's success had not only motivated its rivals, but made them closer allies in the fight against the interloper.
"It's true that we are not a car manufacturer - and never intended to be - but we wanted to be successful in the sport," he explained, "That we are leading the likes of McLaren and Ferrari definitely makes us proud. We are always focusing on who is the best, who needs to be beaten, and then we go out and try it. That has always been Red Bull's philosophy. I cannot fully understand why others have difficulties with this view. What is really funny in is that over the last few decades McLaren and Ferrari have been arch rivals, but since our arrival - and success - they have moved much closer together."
Continuity, both behind the wheel and on the technical side, are, according to Marko, the keys to RBR's success, and he is delighted that the important positions will continue to be filled by familiar faces in 2012.
"I would say that the magic word is probably continuity, on the top decision-making level, but also immediately below that too," he confirmed, "We haven't seen a change over the last three years and, when there have been changes, then it's within the team. People are moved from one department to another when they display corresponding talents, but it all stays 'in the family'! To know that one's talent will be recognised and to be given the opportunity to grow makes this harmony which translates into success.
"First and foremost, we have Adrian Newey. Secondly, our tools - CFD, wind tunnel and simulator - work perfectly together, which means that, before a piece heads to production, we have made sure that it will deliver. Therefore the chances of failure are already minimised towards zero before production starts.
"The foremost quality of a car is for it to be driveable. It doesn't help to have a car that is faster than the rest but only for certain track configurations. Looking at the upgrades that we added over the season, they all delivered. We never had to face the awkwardness of building back. Looking at all the other cars over the course of the season, they all gradually became lookalikes of the RB7… they're just painted differently! The longer the season lasted, the more RB7s there were on the grid."
Continuity on the driving strength may have been retained for several seasons but, in each of the last two years, there have been doubts about Mark Webber's place in the team. Although the Australian will again partner Vettel in 2012, he is widely tipped to leave RBR at the end of the season, but Marko has some stark warnings for those hoping to step into the #2 car in future.
"[Having a roster of young hopefuls] is definitely a nice problem to have, and we have four drivers to be considered: Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne," he confirmed, "Should Mark decide to stop, then one out of this pool will be promoted [but], right now, not one of these four has an advantage. It will be decided when the situation arises."