Charles Leclerc believes Ferrari have reason to feel good following their performance in the F1 Spanish Grand Prix, with the Monegasque driver nothing the Scuderia performed better than their midfield rivals.
Ferrari finished fourth and seventh on Sunday, with Leclerc scoring the higher finish. It was an impressive performance given the 23-year-old finished ahead of Red Bull's Sergio Perez.
"We were incredibly competitive compared to our main competitors," Leclerc told Sky Sports F1 after the race. "I think we were the standout [team] in the race today so it was good.
"The feeling with the car was amazing, and in the early part of the race with the softs everything felt very good. We didn't have too much degradation. On the medium it was all about trying to manage and keep some of the tyre once Perez would get past because we were a bit worried about Sergio
"He had good pace but he seemed to fade a little bit towards the end."
When asked how Ferrari have improved since last season when they were lapped in Spain, Leclerc wasn't able to pinpoint just one area, noting the overall package has improved.
"It is actually," Leclerc. "t's difficult to explain. "We have more power, we have more downforce and more grip, and especially for the race it seems to help us a lot because last year the balance during the race was very difficult whenever you put high fuel.
"You felt the weakness of the car a lot more. Last year we struggled with that and this year it just feels a lot better."
Sainz not entirely satisfied
As for Sainz, the Spaniard couldn't help but wonder what might have been after finishing in seventh spot. Sainz didn't get a clean start and as a result dropped a few positions, which he believes hindered his ability to finish even higher.
"A bit frustrating to be honest," Sainz told Sky Sports F1. "It was frustrating because I felt like the car was behaving really well, and that I was very comfortable with a car.
"I knew a good start was key, and unfortunately I couldn't make it happen. I'm not exactly sure what happened on Lap 1 and what I could have done differently to not lose a couple of positions, but from their on it was a race of just staying behind people, trying to push to overtake them but not having enough top speed to make it stick.
"It was catch up from there. I wish I could have raced a bit more in cleaner air and it could have been much better."
Sainz forced his way past former teammate Lando Norris on Lap 51, a welcome sign for the Scuderia as they now sit just 11 points back of McLaren in the constructors' standings.
"No he didn't, he moved late and on the limit," Sainz added when asked if Norris made it easy for him. "I just reacted enough to make it stick. I could pass Lando because we had a big tyre delta. Daniel, for example, we were on the same age for the tyres. The whole race I was three, four tenths quicker but that is not enough to overtake around here.
"I couldn't pass Daniel, I couldn't pass Ocon on track and I had to do it with strategy and it was a bit of a shame."