Haas F1 boss Guenther Steiner insists his drivers are on equal footing at the US squad amid impressions that the team had perhaps been inclined to favour Romain Grosjean in the early part of the season.
The Frenchman indeed enjoyed an impressive debut with Haas, scoring some good points in Australia and Bahrain before the American outfit's initial momentum subsided.
For Steiner however, Esteban Gutierrez' relative underperformance compared to his team mate was linked to the Mexican's lack of competitive racing, insisting Haas did not enforce a specific pecking order among its drivers.
"Esteban was not in an F1 car for one year - and that does not help - but he also was pretty unlucky at the first couple of races," Steiner explained in an interview with the Formula1.com website.
"On the material side both drivers have always been treated equally: the same car, the same equipment - and both had the same chances.
"There was probably the impression from the outside that Romain was our number-one driver because he is older and has more experience.
"But inside the team we don’t have any favouritism. We want both drivers to be in the points, yes, but if it is only one we don’t care who it is."
While Steiner is satisfied with the team's progress to date, the Austrian still believes Haas has its work cut out for it, particularly with regard to improving the VF16's weaknesses and bolstering its strengths.
"The weakest point is always not having enough downforce - that is the ‘sickness’ in the paddock! With more downforce everything works better.
"But other than that I don’t see that we have one particular weak point. We have a pretty well-balanced car if we get the tyres to work - and we have a good engine.
"If we get out of the car what it is able to do, we are pretty much on the ‘sunny side’!"