Kevin Magnussen believes Renault holds the strongest package in Formula 1’s midfield group, though remains confident his Haas squad can regularly challenge the manufacturer.
Formula 1’s midfield battle has proved to be a tight affair over the opening trio of races, with Haas, McLaren, Toro Rosso and Renault all enjoying spells at the front of the fight.
Force India and Sauber have also made appearances in the top 10, while only Williams has yet to pick up a point.
McLaren holds fourth spot in the Constructors’ battle, its haul of 28 points three more than Renault, while Haas has amassed 11 points, leaving it behind Toro Rosso, having missed out on a strong haul when both cars retired in Australia.
When asked whether Haas can lead the midfield fight Magnussen, who raced for the French manufacturer in 2016, said: “At the moment, I think we are very even with Renault and perhaps a little faster than McLaren, at least in qualifying.
“The rest of the midfield, perhaps, seems a little more inconsistent, but they can definitely be up there with the rest of us on occasions.
“Renault is probably the strongest competitor in the midfield, but I think we have a car that can easily match them, and when we do well, beat them also. That should be our aim at the moment – to be fighting those guys.
“Obviously, we want to improve on last year’s result, which was eighth, and I think that’s a feasible target.
“We’re doing well at the moment, in terms of performance, but if we find ourselves in a good position halfway through the season, then maybe we have to reset our goals.”
Magnussen secured back-to-back points finishes in Bahrain and China, the first time he has done so since his rookie year with McLaren in 2014.
The Dane also ended a three-year Q3 absence at the season-opening round and attributed his improved form to continuity at Haas, as well as the VF-18’s superiority to its predecessor.
“The main thing is that we have a good car, a better car this year,” said Magnussen.
“I also think it makes a big difference that I’m with the same team for a second year, having that continuity.
“You have a totally different preparation and some experience to rely on.”