Haas team principal Guenther Steiner believes there is no clear leader in the fight to lead Formula 1’s midfield in 2019, saying the pace-setter is likely to change from race to race.

Haas ran towards the head of the midfield in Australia and Bahrain qualifying, only to suffer a downturn in performance in the race in Bahrain as drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen struggled to manage their tyres.

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McLaren’s Carlos Sainz said in Bahrain that he thought Haas held a 0.5-second advantage over its midfield rivals, but Steiner sees the race to lead the midfield as being far more fluid.

“I wouldn’t say the midfield is closer than last year, there’s just more people in it. I think everybody can be in it at some stage,” Steiner said.

“I think this year, at different tracks, the leading midfield team could be different from track to track. It’s not one team leading the midfield, it looks to me like.

“But our position now, I’m obviously not very happy. We should have more points. It’s still very tight, so nobody got away.

“I think it could be a very interesting midfield, even more interesting than last year.”

Haas sits just two points shy of early midfield leader Alfa Romeo in the constructors’ championship despite failing to score any points in Bahrain, with the team working through the post-race test to understand its tyre issues.

“We were lucky to have a test afterwards and it looks like that we didn’t manage the tyres in a good way,” Steiner said.

“I hope we found the cause and we don’t repeat it, that’s the aim. The car, we just lost the performance. The tyres didn’t work any more after a few laps, and then we lost our pace over the race.

“I think everyone else got it right in Bahrain. We were just out of the window. That can happen and it will happen to other ones as well.”

RASPBERRY FUEL?

Following a throwaway comment from Red Bull F1 team boss Christian Horner that Ferrari’s fuel smelled like grapefruit in Bahrain, Steiner was asked if Haas - which races with Ferrari engines - also had found the same thing.

“At the beginning of the season we had a meeting with Ferrari and they asked us which flavour we wanted,” Steiner joked.

“Our guys like raspberries, so we had raspberry flavour!

“No, I’ve never heard of fuel smelling like grapefruit, I’ve never smelt their fuel. I wouldn’t have noticed that we’ve got grapefruit smell in our garage, so I don’t know.”

Steiner added that Haas was not using “exactly the same” fuel as Ferrari.

Additional reporting by Michael Lamonato.

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