Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has poured cold water on whispers that Red Bull's new RB18 isn't as far forward on its development as it could have been.
With Red Bull fighting Mercedes for last year's titles, there's no clear indication as to when the team called time on their 2021 development to switch focus entirely to the new regulations for 2022.
Given that 2021 was the first year of the newly-introduced budget cap, it meant a season of balancing development of the new car alongside trying to maintain the competitiveness of the older machine.
While team boss Christian Horner has revealed that the RB18 is "hitting most of its targets" ahead of entering car build next week, Marko said there's no reason to believe Red Bull won't be near the front in 2022.
"All I can say is that we want to defend Max Verstappen's title and are very well positioned to do so," Marko told F1-Insider.
"We had two different development programmes running in 2021. Both worked.
"There's no reason to believe that Mercedes and we aren't the favorites again this year. Unless someone has found the philosopher's stone in the new regulations."
Marko spent time detoxing from F1
Following on from the stressful 2021 season, Marko withdrew to a health resort in Innsbruck for a winter break.
The 78-year-old headed off to the exclusive Lanserhok Lans resort for a 10-day stay in order to completely reset himself for the record-breaking 23-race season that will unfold this year.
"It was like a sauna for the soul, too," Marko explained, who revealed that he is now back to work at 7am every morning in Austria.
"Mobile phones were only allowed in the evenings, to detox the body and mind from all the stress that accumulates in a year – I highly recommend!"
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