Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz says his Red Bull Racing team must fight for the F1 World Championship this season, as he is adamant his squad belongs in the group of top teams now.
Red Bull finished in second position in both championships last year, being beaten by Brawn GP after a strong start to the season by the British outfit. Mateschitz's team, however, was the strongest in the final part of the campaign and is looking to keep its momentum going into 2010 to reach the top.
The Red Bull boss admits that, after such a strong 2009, only the title will suffice for his team this year.
"We have realistic expectations that, of course, progressed each year," said Mateschitz. "Last year we wanted to finish among the top three teams, which we achieved. This year we have to fight for the championship, because we belong to the three fastest teams. The rest is not dependent on us but on FIA decisions, driver errors, reliability, safety car periods and so on."
Mateschitz believes last year's row over the double diffusers hurt his team, and he reckons Sebastian Vettel could have taken the title if not for that.
"At the start of last season, we were the only team without a double diffuser that could match Brawn's pace," he said. "If you consider we had to rebuild the car, Vettel had to accept the penalty after Melbourne, he could have been champion already last year. Now we have to continue where we finished last year. There is no guarantee for the championship, but it is a target."
The Austrian is also convinced that both Vettel and teammate Mark Webber are ready to fight for the title, and he reckons their rivalry is only a good thing for the team.
"As Sebastian, he can, too. Two drivers of equal strength are no problem but a huge advantage because they push their respective limits. Sebastian had more wins and poles last year than Mark but on fastest laps they were equal. Vettel, of course, is an exceptional personality who might come out maybe in some decades.
"By his pressure, Mark could push his limits remarkably. The fact that Vettel is a product of our young driver scheme is an additional satisfaction for us."