The big beast is once again causing consternation in the paddock. In the recent tests in Valencia, Jerez and Barcelona, the red Bull RB7 stood out from the rest of the herd just like its predecessor. No wonder that the team is brimming with self-confidence.
"If the first race were held tomorrow, we would end up lapping the rest of the field," says Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko.
Although it generally makes sense to wait two or three races before drawing any firm conclusions, it is already apparent that no other car vying for this year's title can currently generate as much downforce as the RB7, which is why the car appears to corner as if on rails. Ferrari didn't cut a bad figure in the tests either, but Alonso's fastest time in Valencia was due to Vettel's absence from the track that afternoon.
The Ferrari driver had to admit that Red Bull will probably be the team to beat again in 2011.
"We know that Red Bull are likely to be ahead of everyone else. They finished the season on a very strong note, so we realise that Red Bull are going to be very competitive," Alonso said.
Heikki Kovalainen was even blunter: "They look like they have everything under control. My feeling is that they haven't even revealed half of what they're capable of yet."
There is one driver in particular who is not going to get into the forecasting game – reigning champion Vettel.
"Every season we all start again from zero. In 2011, all the pieces go back on the board in opening formation," said the Red Bull driver, but did concede that Ferrari are looking strong.