Red Bull Racing has vowed to become a thorn in the side of McLaren and Ferrari this season, with the team confident it has learned from the errors it made in 2009.
The Milton Keynes, UK-based team took the championship fight to Brawn GP last year, but it was beaten to both titles after losing valuable points through poor reliability and errors. Although some believe that last year could well have been its big chance, because teams like Ferrari and McLaren under-performed, Red Bull Racing itself is optimistic that its best is yet to come.
Team principal Christian Horner says that the experiences of last year have served as good lessons for his staff ahead of what looks like it will be a close-fought F1 season.
"We learned a lot of lessons, and the team as a group matured very well," Horner told AUTOSPORT. "To have won six grands prix, finishing second in both championships, four 1-2 finishes, pole positions and the consistency of development we achieved, it was significant.
"We are looking to build on those lessons learned, and I think for sure McLaren and Ferrari will be pushed very hard. They are both formidable teams, and it would be wrong to underestimate an Alonso-Ferrari combination or the previous two World Champions in the McLaren, but I think F1 is set for a great season. Our target is to be part of the championship mix this year and we are quietly confident that we will be competitive in Bahrain."
Horner insists that the team is not worrying about its on-track targets just yet – with its focus being on ensuring its 2010 car is simply as quick as possible.
"Our target at the moment is obviously performance," he said. "And performance will then dictate our campaign. We have really had our heads down over the last few months applying the lessons we have learned in 2009.
"We will only see a true indication of performance when we turn up in Bahrain and, for the first time in a long time, have low fuel qualifying all the way through the three sectors of Q1, Q2 and Q3."
Horner also believes that Red Bull Racing will benefit from an improved Sebastian Vettel in 2010, after a year of growth and improvement from the German last season.
"I think Sebastian developed really well in 2009 – he just grew throughout the season," said Horner. "He is obviously a very talented young man and he is becoming very much the complete package now.
"He obviously has high aspirations for the season ahead. He is training extremely hard, and I am sure he is so young he will only continue to improve."