Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner has admitted that there is going to be no time for anyone at the Milton Keynes operation to rest on their laurels in 2012, with the opposition queuing up to deny them a hat-trick of F1 world titles.
RBR has done 'the double' in each of the last two championships, with Sebastian Vettel
and Mark Webber
taking it to the constructors' crown while the German claimed the drivers' honours, but Horner is well aware that the likes of McLaren
will be waiting to pounce on any slip, especially in a period of technical change. With an unchanged line-up offering a match for any of RBR's rivals, and the genius of Adrian Newey behind the design of the new RB8, the team principal is confident that Red Bull
will remain in the thick of the fight, but accepts that relaxing its focus for a second could be costly.
"Defending both world titles obviously raises the bar again for 2012 and, of course, our goal and objective is to defend both trophies again, as they look perfect on the shelf in our factory," Horner told the official F1 website during a break in testing at Jerez, "However, F1 is a hugely competitive sport and time doesn't stand still. The speed of new innovations is spiralling and, if you throw into that the regulation changes we have seen over the last three years - the double diffuser, the F-Duct, DRS, etc. - it's a huge challenge to manage.
"We've always been good at adapting to those challenges and we must not lose that ability [but] , of course, in such an environment you can never be complacent, as reality will bite immediately if you are. Red Bull
Racing hasn't been in F1 long, which means that we are competing with teams with some phenomenal history and a lot of knowledge to fall back on, so we are taking nothing for granted. We are fortunate to have continuity in all areas, which is a key factor. We've become a very strong unit."
The strength of Red Bull's 'unit' has been something of a theme in Horner's interviews over the winter, but he believes that the growing kinship within the Milton Keynes base has helped in all areas, including the creation of the 2012 car.
"Believe me, it is never easy - or easier - but, yes, we have designed and produced the car in the shortest time that we ever have done and this is testimony to how we have grown together and to the dedication of all the staff," he insisted, "Adrian's drawings don't arrive any earlier, so it's all about pulling all our strength together and making the car happen.
"What sets Red Bull
Racing apart from our opponents is that we have pushed the boundaries. This is because we needed to, because we are not the same size as some of our competitors and we don't have the same resources that some of our rivals have. The secret behind it all is that we are a young team which has matured. I know it sounds a bit old-fashioned, but harmony is an asset that really makes a difference."
Unsurprisingly, Horner sees no reason to look beyond the 'usual suspects' when it comes to potential title rivals.
"Well, we know that McLaren
is always a strong team - they have two great drivers, so they definitely will be pushing very hard," he noted, "Fernando Alonso and Ferrari
will also be strong opponents so, yes, they will be the usual suspects. It is nice to have Kimi Raikkonen
back and I'm sure that he can be a factor at some point in the year. And nobody knows what Mercedes is going to do. But we are heading into a season with six world champions on the grid and that translates into a really stellar year."