Charles Leclerc was "surprised" by Mercedes' pace during the Qatar Grand Prix, after George Russell finished ahead following his first-lap crash.
The Mercedes driver fought back from the back of the field and managed to finish ahead of Leclerc in fourth, while the Ferrari driver finished in fifth ahead of Fernando Alonso.
Leclerc detailed that Ferrari was taking extra precautions following Carlos Sainz's failure to start the race with a fuel leak, but that he was taken aback by Mercedes' pace.
The result means that Mercedes increased its lead over Ferrari in second in the Constructors' by two points to 28 with five rounds, and two Sprints remaining in the season.
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Leclerc admits Mercedes surprise
"We didn't start the day in the best way possible with Carlos' issue, which was a shame," Leclerc told media, including RacingNews365.
"In this way, it made us take a bit more margin on my side driving-wise, just to be on the safe side.
"But I don't think there was more we could have extracted for the race.
"We were not surprised with McLaren's pace, even though they were super quick, we expected on Friday that they would be very strong.
"On the other hand, we're quite surprised with Mercedes' pace.
"For them to finish in front of us with crashing on Lap 1 is surprising."