Red Bull Racing is now ready to take on F1 giants McLaren and Ferrari head to head over the rest of the season after finally delivering on its early season promise with a dominant victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix.
That is the view of team principal Christian Horner, who reckons that now the outfit has shaken off the frustrations caused by reliability issues in the Bahrain and Australian Grands Prix, it is not knuckling down to beat F1's more established outfits.
"We have a great deal of respect for all our opponents, but we have a got a lot of confidence in this team now," said Horner, "We have some great people and two very strong drivers. I believe we have all the know-how and the skill to be able to challenge both McLaren and Ferrari over the rest of the season.
"This result has put us bang right back in the title hunt. Fernando [Alonso] had a tough race here, Ferrari has an engine situation to manage which we are quite familiar with, so from the championship point of view it is very healthy. But there is still a very long way to go."
Despite being bullish about his team's prospects, Horner is well aware of how tough the championship fight is going to be – and reckons the situation is still wide open despite his team's form. Asked if he considered Red Bull Racing favorites after its three pole positions and race form, Horner said: "Well, we are not in the lead of either championship, so no. We have got a good car and very capable people but it is going to be about 19 races and how we perform over 19 races, not one or three. We have got a very good basis and some good stuff in the pipeline."
He added: "The great thing about this championship so far is that we have had three different race winners. No one driver has run off with it – Fernando [Alonso] had his problem here; Lewis [Hamilton] has had a couple of scrappy races as well.
"There are six or seven drivers capable of winning this championship, and that includes both of ours. Here we had a great team result and it is testimony to all the effort that has gone in from the factory and track side to ensure that the cars ran reliably."
Horner has also praised the mental approach of Malaysian race winner Sebastian Vettel , who erased the memories of his mechanical problems in Bahrain and Australia to head home teammate Mark Webber at Sepang.
"He has been remarkable," said Horner. "If anything, he was more cool than a lot of other people, in that he knows he has a fast car, and his motivation has been sky high because of that. Yes, he was in a position to win the first two races and he didn't, but at least he was in a position to do that. Now he has got that victory out of the way we are on the scoreboard properly with both drivers and I think it is great for F1 and the championship."