UPDATE(GMM) Gunther Steiner has played down claims the secret of Ferrari's success in 2019 is a sweet-smelling fuel.
Although the Italian team is yet to win a race, rivals including Mercedes and Red Bull-Honda were stunned in Bahrain to see Ferrari so much faster in a straight line.
In the days after, Red Bull's Christian Horner revealed that he can smell grapefruit coming from the Ferrari garage when the red cars are being refueled.
Dr Helmut Marko corrected him, saying it smells more like strawberry.
"At the beginning of the season we had a meeting with Ferrari and we were asked what flavor we would like," Steiner, the boss of Ferrari-powered Haas, joked in Shanghai. "Personally, we went for raspberry.
"Seriously, I have never heard that the fuel smells like fruit," he insisted. "And I think if there was such a smell in our garage, we would have noticed."
Haas uses the same engine as Ferrari this year, but less clear is whether the fuel is identical.
"You can see some differences on the GPS," Steiner said when asked to compare Ferrari and Haas in terms of horsepower.
"Ferrari is very fast, and many claim that it is the engine. But I think it's necessary to talk about a whole combination of factors, including the level of drag."
Asked if Haas' Shell fuel is the same as Ferrari's, Steiner insisted: "Exactly the same. I really don't know what's different about them compared to us."
|What's in that Ferrari fuel?|
04/08/19 (GMM) New questions about the legality of Ferrari's 2019 engine are beginning to be asked.
In the winter test season, following a spate of FIA announcements clamping down even harder on the regulations, the general consensus was that the top engines in F1 were now all close in performance.
But then came Bahrain, where rivals were shocked to discover that Ferrari's engine is five tenths better in a straight line.
One estimate puts the gap at 40 horse power.
"We actually thought that the FIA had filled all the last holes in the regulations," Red Bull's Adrian Newey told Auto Motor und Sport.
One new theory is that Ferrari's fuel sponsor Shell has discovered something revolutionarily new.
"The fuel from the Ferrari garage smells like grapefruit juice," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said.