Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner believes driver, engine and staff continuity will be a key factor in helping boost his outfit's chances of fighting for the World Championship this year.
With the Milton Keynes, UK-based outfit the only front-running team to keep the same lineup that it started 2009 with, Horner thinks that Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have a real chance to hit the ground running in their preseason preparations.
"For us we believe it is crucial,” Horner said at the AUTOSPORT International show. "Not just with the drivers, but across the board with personnel and all aspects of the car, including the engine. "So, we are probably one of the only big teams that has not had a change, and there is always that settling down period, especially with the restricted testing, that drivers who change teams or new drivers coming into teams are going to be under pressure to get up to speed quickly.
"We have the benefit of continuity, but obviously the other teams are quality teams and world-class drivers and I am sure by the time we arrive in Bahrain they will all be in good shape. "
Horner is adamant that Red Bull Racing's decision to skip the first preseason test, to give itself more time for development of the RB6, will not be a handicap.
"Strategically, it is something that we looked at, and it is something that you look at when you look at the planning of the car," he said. "It was something we elected to do in 2009, to give the designers, Adrian [Newey] and his team as much time as possible, to optimize the launch car.
"Last year, it poured with rain for three days at Parc Algarve, and we don't have good enough weather satellites to say it is going to do the same in Valencia. But it is a strategy we have adopted.
"We believe it gives us the best preparation for the first race in Bahrain, and the season ahead. It is a long campaign – 19 races this year – so rightly or wrongly that is our decision. It is an aggressive route to take. It has always been part of our strategy and we will hit the ground running at the second test in Jerez.
"It is the most southern test track in Europe where, hopefully, the weather will be starting to warm up a little by then, and we believe it gives us the best preparation for the first race in Bahrain."
Horner also played down suggestions that the decision to miss the first test was forced on the outfit by the last decision to stick with Renault power units for 2010.
"I don't think the engine decision made any difference at all to our planning. There were obviously some discussions with Mercedes-Benz during the latter part of the summer, but as soon as it was clear what our engine choice was going to be, it hasn't compromised anything in any way. The engines these days, through regulations, are so similar in terms of their packaging that it hasn't compromised us at all. We are looking forward to hopefully another good year with Renault."
Horner added a pitch to avoid giving any engine manufacturer a leg up via rules: "As the regulations are more stable and inevitably as the chassis converge, then engine performance will be a key performance differentiator – and it is important that under a fair and equitable basis, one engine will not be allowed to have a significant advantage over its peers."