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Mat Coch writes:
Red Bull isn't about to rest on its laurels and is looking to improve in all areas. After dominating the 2011 season, and on the back of its success in 2010, team boss Christian Horner was keen to stave off suggestions the team is becoming complacent.
"There's a determination within the team, having achieved the success that we've enjoyed over the last two or three season to maintain that level and improve from where we were last year," he told the media in Melbourne.
"Our philosophy's always been to look inwardly, even races that you win, what could you have done better? You're always learning because as soon as you become complacent it's a very dangerous thing in this business and you go backwards very quickly."
Horner was quick to dismiss problems in pre-season testing, especially the gearbox problems which hampered Sebastian Vettel's final day in Barcelona. "You're always left wanting that little bit more but I'd rather have a problem in Barcelona than at a race," he said. "The most important thing is the way that we conduct our testing. We have three four day tests available to us and you try to maximise the use of that time with the programmes that you want to work through."
With testing now over and the season set to start it seems not even the teams themselves know just where they stack up against one another. "Come Saturday afternoon we get the first indication of where the pecking order is," said the Englishman. "Then of course it's a flat out development race from here all the way to Brazil in nine months' time. It's going to be fascinating because I think sitting here nobody truly knows what kind of shape that they're in because testing, while it gives glimpses, doesn't give a very clear picture.
"What you can see from some of the longer runs is that the usual protagonists look in reasonable shape," he continued. "McLaren look like they're going to be competitive, Mercedes look like they've made a step forward, Ferrari I don't think are in as bad a shape as perhaps has been perceived, and Lotus have obviously shown real flashes of speed as well."
The first race of the season also marks the debut for Red Bull's latest protégé Jean-Eric Vergne, who joins Daniel Ricciardo at Toro Rosso. "We'll be keeping a very close eye on them," Horner admitted. "They're both Red Bull Racing drivers that have been placed on loan effectively to Toro Rosso."
It's expected that one of the two will eventually replace Mark Webber at the senior team, though they first need to prove themselves. "It's entirely logical that if you have a youth policy, and that youth policy is delivering real talent, and that talent is exciting talent - as Sebastian Vettel has demonstrated - it would make more sense to take a home grown driver than going externally.
"They're two of the most talented youngsters that have been on the periphery of Formula One over the last couple of years and they've got their opportunity now to go head to head to demonstrate that they have warranted that. But that's not something that we need to be thinking about for a little while."
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