Despite some insiders expecting the team to struggle at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, World Champion Sebastian Vettel is confident Red Bull will be able to fight for victory in the Canadian Grand Prix.
The team has never won in Canada, with David Coulthard's third place in 2008 its best result, leading many to tip two-time Canada winner Lewis Hamilton to set the pace for McLaren. Last year, Vettel and Mark Webber finished fourth and fifth after opting to qualify and start the race on the harder prime Bridgestone rubber.
The 23-year-old German believes that the decision to run the slower tire compound in qualifying shrouded Red Bull's real pace and that there is no reason why he can't fight for a sixth win of the season on Sunday. But this does depend on the team understanding the performance of the tires better than it did here in 2010.
"I'm quite confident," said Vettel. "Last year, we had a good car here but were no on the podium. We started the race on a different strategy that turned out not to work, which was a surprise for us at the time.
"We learned our lesson. This year, we will see how the tires work and how long they last, but in terms of pace we should be OK."
Vettel admitted that the circuit configuration in Montreal, which features long straights and only slow and medium-speed corners, does not favor Red Bull and its Renault engines. But he warned that the team has further upgrades to introduce to the car that he expects will allow them to be in contention.
"We know that long straights are not always in our favor," said Vettel. "Our car is very good in fast corners, but we don't have any of those around here. So we will see.
"We have been working hard and have brought some new bits here. They are not massive, but little steps, and we will see tomorrow where we are and how we are working the tires.
"It's difficult to say on paper that we should be first, second, third...it can work out differently. But this is one of the most difficult weekends here because the track is very different and the asphalt is very smooth, so tires will be important."
Vettel added that despite building up a 58-point championship lead, he is still targeting victories rather than taking a conservative approach. The German has won five races this year and finished second once, to Hamilton in China, but is not planning to settle for points finishes because he knows that there will be bad races to come.
"We take every race as it comes and we want to win," said Vettel. "I could have said two weeks ago in Monaco, 'Let's take a solid third and finish the race.' But I was hungry, I wanted to win and I knew that my only chance to do that was to stay out on the same tires.
"There is still a long way to go and there will still be races where we struggle. Maybe I will make a mistake, or the car has a problem, and it will be important in those races to finish in the points. But we want to win every time. That has to be our target."