Haas team boss Guenther Steiner believes Formula 1's mid-field battle will be the tightest it's ever been this year, with seven teams fighting to be 'best of the rest'.
On the back of very positive results achieved in winter testing with its new VF-18 charger, Haas has emerged as a dark horse contender in 2018, and one which its team boss feels can challenge for the top spot among the mid-field.
"We should be able to be in it, then we could be able to," Steiner told Racer.
"Last year we finished eighth but we were in the hunt for sixth. It was eight points, it isn't great but it wasn't a disaster.
"We were in there with everyone else who wanted it and maybe we came up a little bit short. Some you lose, some you win."
A battle royal is brewing once again among the usual front-running suspects, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. But in their wake, while Haas and Renault appear well-placed to lead the second-tier charge, Steiner expects the inter-team rivalry to be wide open from the outset.
"There is no weak team here anymore," insists the Italian.
"It's quite demanding at the moment. It's one of the most competitive seasons in F1 for a long period of time.
"Take the first three out who are in a different league, but the rest is very competitive, very close together.
"Just to look good and not having the points doesn't help at the end of the year."