According to Franz Tost, Red Bull and Mercedes are on the same level, with Christian Horner’s team maybe ‘even faster’.
There is plenty of talk heading into the first qualifying session of the season as to who the favourite is between last year’s top two.
Mercedes were, of course, completely dominant last year, but it has been Red Bull so far in testing and in practice that have led the way, with Max Verstappen taking P1 in all three practice sessions in Bahrain.
AlphaTauri team principal Tost is pleased with his own team’s performance, but understands a lot of what they can achieve depends on the progress of their competitors.
As quoted by RaceFans, he said: “We improved in every aspect, but you must not forget our competitors as well. If you look at the McLaren, they have the Mercedes power unit, they are very strong.
“For me, currently Red Bull and Mercedes are on the same level, maybe Red Bull is even faster.
“Then I see McLaren coming, and we see then what’s going on with Ferrari. But we are close to Ferrari and to the rest.”
Tost has been very impressed with the performance of the new Honda power unit in particular, especially when compared to last year’s.
Although, its true pace compared to the other teams will not truly be found out until the teams return to track on Saturday evening for qualifying.
Tost said: “I must say Honda did fantastic job in Sakura, because this new power unit is much more powerful and drive-able [than] it was in the past.
“We’ll see in qualifying and also in the race, I think, that Honda is really very, very close to Mercedes.
“I can only say thank you to the Japanese engineers because they did a fantastic job.”
For AlphaTauri themselves, they have also looked good over the course of the weekend so far, with Yuki Tsunoda putting in some impressive laps while Pierre Gasly took P3 in FP3.
Tost is hopeful they can take their performance levels into qualifying to get the most out of the car.
“Our performance is as expected,” he said. “If everything runs well with both cars [we can be] in Q3.
“But the midfield is very tight and it’s hundredths of a second. You can be eighth, but you can also be 15th. And I personally hope that we can get it together and that both cars will be done in Q3 and we score points on Sunday.”