Formula 1 will witness some truly "titanic" battles on track this season with no team holding a clear advantage heading into the first race of the season. That is the view of Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, who supports the widely held view that there is little in performance terms separating the top teams.
"Our analysis is showing us that you have got three teams that are very tight and it is about who gets it right on the day," said Horner (left), ahead of this weekend's season opener in Bahrain. "But nobody has fully declared their hand yet.
"I think Mercedes look more variable. It is harder to read their true performance. But Michael looks on it. He has definitely given nothing away from his time out. I think it is going to be great as you are going to have Michael Schumacher racing, not just off into the lead. You are going to have him racing in among the Fernandos, the Sebastians, the Marks, Lewis', Jensons. I think we are going to have some titanic battles this year."
Horner says Red Bull Racing's target is simply to go for the World Championship, having come close after a season-long duel with Brawn GP in 2009.
"The title is what we all want to achieve," explained Horner. "They are the only two trophies missing from the cabinet, so the objective has got to be to go for it.
"We will do everything we can to try and win but we have got some formidable opponents. Ferrari and McLaren had a blip last year but they are two massive teams with great depth of resource and the Schumacher/Mercedes/Brawn combination is also a very potent one. F1 is more competitive this year than it has been for many years.
"Thinking drivers will come to the fore this year. Sebastian is a thinking driver, but both of our guys are. Sebastian was fantastic last year when he was given a challenge to save fuel. He was phenomenal at being able to sustain a very strong pace while also looking after the car."
Horner feels that each of the front-running teams have factors in their favor – and also elements that can go wrong.
"I think it is interesting that you have got the British, German and Latin teams and then we are a bit more cosmopolitan," he said. "It is going to be interesting to see what happens with Lewis and Jenson, and it will be down to the team how they manage that. They are both professional guys and it is going to be fascinating how the dynamics of that work.
"I thought it was a very ballsy move of Jenson to leave a team with which he had won a World Championship and quite a surprising move that a team that had just won a World Championship let a World Champion go.
"Plus it was a bold move from Jenson to go into Lewis' environment, effectively into Lewis' team and take him on. But he obviously had the inner confidence that he felt that he could on equal terms take Lewis on in his own environment. Only time will tell if it was the right decision, but certainly [it was] a bold decision.
"I think Jenson is a personable kind of guy. I am sure he has got his group of people working around him and the bottom line is if he is quick, the team will very quickly fall in love with him. Jenson has almost got that pressure off his back now and, from the outside looking in, he looks more relaxed. He is the reigning champion and I think he will drive in a more relaxed manner as a result of that.
He added: "There are some interesting dynamics with the German and English team, but the Alonso to Ferrari one that is either going to make fantastic music or there will be fireworks. Massa has gone OK, so it is going to be fascinating how he handles Alonso. Suddenly you have got a very different animal to deal with than Kimi Raikkonen with Fernando next to him.
"Fernando is a pretty ruthless operator and he won't take any prisoners. You can see he is a very passionate guy. A fantastic driver and a combination of Ferrari and Alonso is going to be a strong one. But he doesn't look the kind of guy who tolerates things not going how he wants them or his way."