Christian Horner has warned rivals that, despite the intensity of the 2012 F1 title battle and the short turnaround between the Brazilian Grand Prix and pre-season testing, there is no reason to doubt that Red Bull Racing will be a threat.
Although RBR's technical chief, Adrian Newey, has admitted that the new RB9 is an evolution of last year's championship-winning RB8 largely because of the limited time between seasons – and the fact that Ferrari pushed the Milton Keynes team all the way to the Interlagos finale – it is still expected to rival the Scuderia, McLaren and Lotus in the hands of Mark Webber and triple world champion Sebastian Vettel. The opening pre-season test of 2013, at Jerez this week, has shown the car to be a capable package, and the remaining sessions in Barcelona will only serve to show just how potent it can be.
“True, it has been a pretty short winter - racing finished at the end of November and December and January were consumed with producing the new car,” Horner told the official F1 website, “But that didn't diminish our sky-high motivation, producing the car in record time and coming to the first test here in Jerez with a consistent running car.
“The fact that we've been able to be so late with the focus on the 2013 car is because the rules are pretty stable, so obviously everything we learned in 2012 has relevance. The car is very much an evolution of the RB8 - which obviously was a successful car.
“We had a very good basis. The family of cars that has grown out of RB5, RB6, RB7, RB8 and RB9 - it's a natural evolution that you can see. You can see the family resemblance. Of course, the devil is always in the detail, [but] the feeling of the car is pretty much the same as its predecessor - just more refined. Overall, it was an encouraging start [for] the RB9.”
Horner admits that there are times when Red Bull finds it hard to believe that it has remained unbeaten, in championship terms at least, since 2010, but accepts that that success will only have hardened the resolve of its rivals to end the run this season
“Of course, there is that fear but, on the other hand, we have achieved these six world championships and it is up to the others to raise their game,” he pointed out, “What we have achieved nobody can take away from us - that we've won 34 races, three constructors' championships and three drivers' championships. That is in the record books.
“Truth is, however. with success comes expectation. When you are at the top, you are there to be shot at. With every season that has gone by, the pressure hasn't reduced. 2012 was a tough year, but we really rose to the challenge and it is our determination to take that momentum into this season and not to lose it.”
“There is a huge desire and motivation - and a will to succeed - in the team. Whether that will be good enough, ask me at the end of the year.”