Red Bull Racing is confident its rivals won't have an easier time at next weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, even though its cars have traditionally been less competitive at the street venue.
Coming off a very strong performance in Spain, where the team was dominant in qualifying and got both cars on the podium in the race, Red Bull's rivals have been left scratching their heads about how they can catch up with the team in pure downforce terms. But, although few expect its advantage to be as big on the tight Monaco street circuit, team boss Christian Horner believes those who think the RB6 will be as weak as its predecessors in Monaco will be in for a disappointment.
Last year Sebastian Vettel could only qualify fourth, and then crashed out of the race after struggling with tire degradation.
"It is a race that we are determined to do well at," said Horner. "It is a circuit that we weren't particularly strong at last year, but we feel we have improved the car in a lot of areas compared to last season and we believe we can be very strong in Monaco."
The pace of the RB6 in the early stages of the season, and especially in Spain, has shown that the car is a step forward over its predecessor in high-speed corners. However, Horner thinks Adrian Newey's design team has also made big steps forward with its slow-speed performance, too – which will be vital for the tight confines of Monaco.
"If we had an Achilles heel last year, it was on the slower-speed corners," Horner added. "Some of the work that the guys have done over the close season and in the early development of RB6 is that we have maintained our high-speed performance but also really improved the low-speed performance.
"A combination of factors have come in to play, so it is very pleasing to see the drivers' performance in the last sector in Spain for example, where with both RB4 and RB5 it was not our strongest area."
Red Bull's rivals will also face the other problem that the RB6 seems much better able to extract single-lap performance from the softer-compound tires than any other car on the grid – which will be crucial for getting a good grid slot in Monaco.