Charles Leclerc has rejected the notion that Ferrari have the fastest car as F1 gears up for the start of the 2022 season in Bahrain this weekend.
Over the two pre-season tests in Barcelona and Bahrain, the Scuderia consistently impressed by placing at or near the top of the timesheets throughout.
Both Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz exploited what appeared to be good inherent speed from the F1-75, with the car adapting well to the two different circuit types.
Added to that was metronomic reliability from the Ferrari power unit, with the team regularly amongst the highest mileage figures at the end of each day.
But despite some observers suggesting that Ferrari would be at the head of the pack in Bahrain, Leclerc moved to downplay such a notion.
"I don't want to say it's our best [pre-season], because then people will straight away come to the conclusion that we are ahead of everyone, and that's not the case," Leclerc told media, including RacingNews365.com, on the eve of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
"I think we are a bit behind Red Bull."
Viewed by others:
Porpoising the "biggest challenge" for Bahrain
A notable feature of the first three days of pre-season running saw the cars repeatedly pitching up and down at high speed, in a phenomenon known as porpoising.
While Ferrari appear to be managing this issue better than some, Leclerc said porpoising would be the biggest hurdle for drivers and teams to overcome this weekend, especially with the windy nature of the Sakhir circuit.
"Bouncing, I think, will be the biggest challenge, especially for the race," said Leclerc.
"It depends a lot on the conditions, and where the wind is coming from, so we might have some [porpoising], and the race is quite long, so it's going to be pretty bumpy."
F1 Podcast: Previewing the 2022 Formula 1 season
Ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher preview the 2022 season.