Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko believes Ferrari has stolen a march on its Formula 1 rivals at the first pre-season test but feels Red Bull are at a similar performance level to Mercedes.

The Red Bull squad begins its new Honda power unit partnership this year, following the Japanese manufacturer’s successful maiden campaign with sister squad Toro Rosso, with Marko reporting no running issues throughout the first test with its new power unit.

While lap times have been typically tricky to accurately understand the F1 pecking order, Marko has followed the popular talk of putting the fastest tag on Ferrari but feels his Red Bull squad has matched reigning world champions Mercedes and will have the capabilities of winning races in 2019.

“From what I saw yesterday on the circuit, Ferrari at the moment is the fastest car and behind that is Red Bull and Mercedes,” Marko told Sky Sports F1. “Let’s see what we can do in Melbourne but we are quite optimistic that this year we can win races from our own strength not only if others have trouble or at special circuits like Monte Carlo.

“Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso have had a very good time and the engine is reliable. I would say we have never had such a good preparation for this season with both teams.”

Marko remains confident Red Bull’s new Honda partnership will breed success for both parties of the partnership having suffered no reliability issues this week.

“It is a new period, we don’t look back we look forward, it is a very good relationship,” he said. “The concern of course was about reliability but so far that is not a problem at all. It is a new culture as well but it fits well with our people.”