Ferrari has labelled wild rumours of a 30hp leap in engine performance this year as a "joke", amid growing intrigue about the steps that Formula 1 manufacturers have made for 2023.
With an engine freeze in place from the start of last year, a number of car makers elected to risk reliability in a bid to ensure they had the best possible baseline of performance.
Both Ferrari and Renault, which powers the Alpine team, admitted that they had pushed things to the limit in the quest for longer-term gains.
They knew that the rules would permit them to make changes to improve reliability, whereas no straight performance gains could take place.
In the wake of Ferrari's engine reliability dramas in the middle of 2022, the team turned down its power unit to try to better manage things over the closing stages of the campaign.
However, it emerged that the Prancing Horse was able to deliver reliability tweaks for the season finale in Abu Dhabi which allowed it to regain some of its power – and that could have been worth as much as 15hp.
Speculation also emerged over the winter that Ferrari had another 15hp in its pocket that could be unleashed once the power unit was more durable.
This triggered a number of stories that Ferrari could be set for a 30hp leap forward for 2023, compared to where it was at during stages of last season.
But team principal Frederic Vasseur has laughed off such wild claims, and played down any talk that tweaks made to its power unit over the winter had delivered any steps in power.
"I don't know where the numbers are coming from, but it's just a joke," he said. "We made some step but it's just about reliability.
"I think the performance last year of the engine was not an issue at all. The issue was the reliability and the first target is to fix it.
"So far it looks okay. But the reality of the track is a different aspect.
"I think there were a couple of issues that teams suffered from, and it's not just true for Ferrari. It's coming from the track operation, bouncing and vibration, and everybody will have a much better picture in Bahrain in a bit more than two weeks' time."
Vasseur's comments about Ferrari's engine progress come in the wake of Renault's F1 engine chief Bruno Famin saying over the winter that he expected the FIA to get tougher in ensuring that any reliability gains were genuine problems and not a back door route to improve performance.
"It [the FIA] has been quite tolerant in 2022," he said. "I think it was quite normal because everybody was affected by reliability issues: not only us, clearly, because I think we had 30/40/50/60/70 requests from different manufacturers, so everybody was affected by this kind of problem.
"I am expecting the FIA to be a bit stronger in the future, but I have no information."
He added: "What is a pure genuine reliability issue? It's a question we can't answer because behind the reliability issue you have often a potential performance gain of course. The limit is not always super clear.
"If you have a water pump issue as we had in 2022, I think it's quite clear it's a pure reliability issue right: there is nothing to gain in having a different water pump.
"But if you need to change the material of the piston rings, you will be able to have something stronger, to have more knock, to have more performance, then where is the limit? It's not obvious."