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Steiner: Ferrari F1 engine as good as Mercedes’, ‘if not better’

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Haas Formula 1 chief Guenther Steiner believes that the Ferrari power unit used by his team is just as good as that offered by Mercedes, “if not better”.

Mercedes has been recognized as producing the best power unit in F1 since the introduction of the new V6 turbos in 2014, with its works teams sweeping to three straight championship-doubles.

Ferrari looked to make gains over the winter with its power unit, and managed to defeat Mercedes at the season-opener in Australia as Sebastian Vettel took his first race win in 18 months.

From his experience with the customer Haas team, Steiner was full of praise for the Ferrari power unit, believing it to be at least equal to what the Mercedes teams are racing with.

“With the engine, there is not just one area that is better, it’s the whole package that has improved from last year,” Steiner said.

“It’s now as competitive as a Mercedes engine, if not better. Ferrari won in Australia, but everybody is developing and trying to get better.

“It’s always going to be a development race. They’ve made a good step, and without that help from Ferrari, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

Haas saw its hopes of scoring points in Australia end in disappointment as both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen retired, the former running seventh on-track before a water leak forced him out of the race.

Despite the setback, Steiner said that Haas remained “cautiously optimistic” heading into the second race of the season in China on April 9.

“We need to still prove that our performance wasn’t a one-off. It’s very tight in the midfield,” Steiner said.

“On a good day, you could be on top, but on a bad day, you could be at the back. The other midfield teams have shown that this can happen.

“I think we surprised a little bit with our performance, especially Romain qualifying sixth with his lap, which was four-tenths faster than [Felipe] Massa’s. That’s pretty good.”

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”