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.”