Carlos Sainz Jr estimates Haas has produced a half-second pace advantage over its Formula 1 midfield rivals including his McLaren squad and fears it will be a tough deficit to close this season.

Coming off the back of a strong 2018 for the newest team on the F1 grid, Haas won the midfield battle at the Australian Grand Prix with Romain Grosjean qualifying in sixth place with teammate Kevin Magnussen taking the same position in the race as the top midfield runners.

Sainz, who suffered a frustrating maiden race for McLaren which was ended prematurely by a MGU-K failure, estimates the US team to be half a second faster in qualifying trim which he worries puts them “too far ahead in the midfield”.

“The only one that could escape that is the Haas as they are a bit too far ahead in the midfield for everyone else,” Sainz said in Bahrain. “That is the only bad thing compared to last year, that the Haas is a bit too far away compared to last year.

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“It is more than half a second, to close a gap of half a second even in a high development rate this season it would be a very difficult task.

“They won’t standstill so you need to develop at least seven or eight tenths which is a lot of lap time. My big estimate is it is going to be very difficult to end the year in front of Haas in qualifying. I wouldn’t say in a race but in pure pace it is going to be very difficult for anyone.

“I don’t look at numbers as much as the engineers, I just do my guesses looking at lap times and how good their lap times were compared to mine or my teammate’s. I did a rough calculation, this is not an exact number. Half a second is a lot but we will try.”

Sainz has already lost one of his MGU-K units in his power unit allocation for the 2019 F1 season having confirmed the part was destroyed in his fiery exit on lap 11 at the opening round in Australia.

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