Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner says his squad is expecting a much greater threat from Ferrari and McLaren this year judging by early testing results.
Although RBR dominated the final three races of 2009 and starts this season among the title favorites, Horner is not underestimating the challenge from former champions Ferrari and McLaren – who he believes have made great strides during the winter.
"It would be very dangerous to underestimate our rivals," Horner told AUTOSPORT. "They've certainly turned up with what looks like some good steps in Ferrari and McLaren's case.
"We're just focused on our own job, and we'll concentrate on putting on as much performance, not just between now and the first race, but between now and the 19th race of the year."
He said there was no danger of Red Bull getting over-confident now that it had established itself as a title contender.
"It's very flattering, but I think we're just focused on our own performance," Horner replied when asked how it felt to be a championship favorite. "The whole team is working incredibly hard in all areas. It's so hard to draw any conclusions about your opponents – especially this year, more than in previous years – in the run up to the first race, so we've just got our head down, doing the best job we can."
Although Red Bull was among Brawn's closest challengers from the outset last year, it was only at midseason that the squad hit its best form. Horner hopes that as one of the few teams to start 2010 with a totally unchanged driver and engine package, Red Bull can start strongly and maintain its form all year.
"I think the important thing for us is that with total continuity in all areas, obviously the target is to hit the ground running in Bahrain," he said. "It's a long championship, but I think consistency is going to be the key to this year's campaign."