Ferrari are now facing "a very good problem" as they debrief from Bahrain and prepare for next weekend's race in Saudi Arabia, according to Charles Leclerc.
The Italian team left Bahrain having maximised their points pick-up, crossing the line to claim their first 1-2 finish since 2019, with Leclerc also pocketing the bonus point for fastest lap.
For their closest rivals, Red Bull, the new season started in painful fashion, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez both forced to retire their cars during the final laps.
Mercedes, meanwhile, finished third and fourth, with a car that the team say is reliable but not yet ready to win races.
That has left Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz filled with optimism and leading the way in both championships.
The fight between Leclerc and Sainz could now intensify
So far, Sainz and Leclerc appear to have maintained a friendly relationship as they pushed to return Ferrari from the midfield to the top step of the podium.
Sunday saw the duo celebrate the team's first win since Sainz made the switch from McLaren, and now they will head to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, confident that they have a car capable of fighting for regular race wins.
And that could see the fight between the two drivers intensify, especially if the team can claim consecutive 1-2 finishes.
In Bahrain, it was Leclerc who held a clear advantage all weekend long, with Sainz confessing that he has "some homework to do" before the cars next hit the track.
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Leclerc: It's a good problem for Ferrari to have
Addressing the media, including RacingNews365.com, following Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, Leclerc branded the prospect of a championship fight with Sainz as "a good problem" for Ferrari to be tasked with.
For the first time this season, the Monegasque racer described his Ferrari F1-75 as a car with the potential to lead him to the sport's biggest prize.
"Coming into the season, we sure knew that we were going to be in a better position compared to the past two years, but we didn't really know where," he said.
"Now we see that we are actually in the mix to fight for the title – it's amazing.
"I think we are both very, very happy to have a car that is capable of winning, and we'll fight for it, for sure."
Sainz: We must keep improving the car
While the new season remains young, it is Sainz who has found himself playing catch-up at Ferrari, with Leclerc already boasting a slender championship lead.
The Spaniard admitted that he was lacking one-lap pace ahead of qualifying in Bahrain, but was able to put pressure on Red Bull on race day and capitalised on their late-race reliability problems.
"It's just great news for Ferrari, and for us," Sainz commented.
"It's where Ferrari should be, and it is where Charles and I want to be in our lives, fighting for World Championships."
He continued: "Before the race, Charles and I were walking together and the first thing that we said to each other is how good it feels to be starting first and third, and to finally be fighting for something bigger together.
"It's still going to be a long year. We still need to make sure that we develop this car well because, at the moment, it is a quick car, but it also needs to be quick the whole year to keep us in the fight."
"We have a good fight on our hands."
When inter-team battles have turned ugly
Formula 1 has seen its fair share of inter-team battles turn ugly, with Lewis Hamilton's battle against Nico Rosberg (2013-16) and Ayrton Senna's fight with Alain Prost (1988-89) perhaps the most famous examples.
Despite a long history of deploying strict team orders, Ferrari have also seen their drivers come together in the past, with Sebastian Vettel and Leclerc banging wheels in Brazil towards the end of a tense 2019 season.
For now, Sainz and Leclerc seem a long way off turning against each other on track, but Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has vowed to let them fight for race wins.
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