Red Bull Racing remains on course to have its 2012 car ready for the first winter Formula 1 test on Feb. 7, although team boss Christian Horner admitted that there was plenty of hard work ahead in the weeks before the Jerez sessions.
The champion team's technical boss Adrian Newey said last month that the aim was to be ready for the opening test despite the new rule that crash tests had to be passed before testing, and Mercedes having opted to wait until the second test before rolling out its 2012 contender. Horner confirmed that Red Bull was still aiming to be ready for Jerez despite the challenge presented by the revised crash test regulations.
"At the moment, things seem to be progressing well and the factory is incredibly busy, as I'm sure all the teams are at this time of the year," said Horner at the AUTOSPORT International motorsports show. "And, of course, there is the added challenge this year of trying to pass the crash test before we test it for the first time. That's the same for everybody and we are burning the midnight oil at Milton Keynes at the moment. We plan to be at that first test – that's on our schedule."
Horner said Red Bull was not paying too much attention to any reports of its rivals' winter progress yet.
"It's always difficult to tell at this time of year," he said. "It's the month of January and we don't see any of the other teams so there are obviously bits of speculation that float around and snippets that come out here and there. But we are very much focused on keeping our heads down and going about our own business and, at the end of the day, it only counts what happens in Melbourne onward.
"There have been big changes over the last few years, whether it has been getting rid of the F-duct, getting rid of the double diffuser, there have always been changes in evolution or introductions like DRS and new tires, and we got rid of refueling a few years ago. That's all part of F1 and as a technical group I think we have proven to be adept at changing to different regulations, but we don't underestimate McLaren and Ferrari or even Mercedes.
"We will only know where we are when the fuel comes out of the car in qualifying in Melbourne in nine weeks' time."