Ferrari's pace nearly on par with Mercedes - Steiner

Haas team boss Gunther Steiner believes Ferrari is not far behind F1 favourite Mercedes following the first two days of pre-season testing.

Ferrari's pace nearly on par with Mercedes - Steiner
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team, and Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W08
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-17

While Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton topped the opening session on Monday, it was Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari who went quickest today, outpacing the British driver by 0.023s despite running harder tyres during his fastest lap.

When asked if Mercedes was in a league apart again, Steiner said: "No, I think Ferrari is pretty good as well. I don't think Ferrari is far behind Mercedes this year. It's very encouraging what Ferrari is putting out there."

He does reckon, however, that the German and Italian teams are a step ahead of the rest, although he believes it is much closer in the midfield.

"Let's say the first two are far away but the rest is a little bit closer together in the midfield," he said. "We haven't seen the real pace of the cars yet, obviously.

"But we are excited. The drivers love it, the cars are harder and more physical to drive, so it's a bigger challenge for them. For our guys everything is new. People love new things, so all in all a very good move to change the regulations."

Haas' new driver Kevin Magnussen showed encouraging form on Tuesday, posting the fourth quickest time of the day after covering 118 laps.

Steiner believes his team is ready to fight for the points when the season kicks off in Australia.

"We hope to get in the points and I think it's a realistic chance from what I've seen these two days," he added.

"Things can change next week if a lot of people find more performance in their cars, but at the moment it looks like we can have a good chance to be in the points again.

"If we get them or not I don't know yet, but I think the potential is there."

Steiner, whose car is powered by a Ferrari engine, praised the Italian squad for the job done with its package.

"Ferrari has done a fantastic job with the engine package, gearbox, everything. Very reliable today. No problems at all. Up to now very satisfying."

Additional reporting by Benjamin Vinel

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