Red Bull boss Christian Horner says the squad “cannot underestimate” the size of its challenge as it tries to dethrone Mercedes but is buoyed by the “solid base” of the RB16B.
Mercedes has won seven successive Formula 1 titles but its performance during pre-season testing prompted the squad to suggest that Red Bull holds the faster package.
Red Bull has played down the notion, with Max Verstappen outlining that Mercedes remains the favourites, and Horner has echoed the stance.
“There is no denying that after the smooth running of the three-day test in Bahrain, there seems to be an excitement out there that we can end Mercedes’ seven-year dominance of F1,” Horner said in his official Red Bull column ahead of this weekend’s opening event.
“We had a debrief within the team after the test and it is fair to say we are a little more cautious on the subject and we cannot underestimate the size of the challenge ahead of us on many fronts.
“We know that Mercedes have not won by mistake for the past seven years; they are a quality, class team that will be motivated to come back strong.
“We saw it a couple of years ago where there was a similar story during pre-season testing and then they smashed it out of the park at the first race in Melbourne.”
Red Bull struggled for rear-end stability through the early stages of 2020 with its RB16 and while still cautious Horner conveyed optimism over the squad’s current situation.
“At this stage it is good that we have a solid basis from which to develop the car, rather than fixing an inherent problem,” he said.
“Of course, Mercedes is trying to move the spotlight away from themselves, which is all part of the game, but the reality is they are the reigning seven-time world champions and it is down to us to close that gap and put up a fight.
“They had one of their strongest seasons last year and this year’s car is an evolution of that, so let’s see what we all have in Bahrain and the rest will follow.”