Charles Leclerc says he’s still not convinced Alfa Romeo Sauber can be seen as regular top 10 challengers despite extending his points-scoring record in Austria.

The Alfa Romeo Sauber driver admitted he ‘pushed like crazy’ after an early race off dropped him to last place as he battled back through the order, aided by a number of drivers ahead dropping out, to take ninth place ahead of teammate Marcus Ericsson in 10th – Sauber’s first double points finish since the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.

Leclerc’s own record continues to glow, with ninth place at the Red Bull Ring marking his fifth points finish in the last six races, but he concedes Sauber can’t consider itself a regular challenger for the top 10 following the race in Austria.

“I’m not convinced yet, but I’m extremely happy about performance this weekend,” Leclerc said. “P13 and we had a five-places grid penalty [for a gearbox change] and then we were P13 or P14 before going in the gravel and last. Then coming back in the points so it’s a great weekend for us.

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“I knew I had to push very hard in the first laps because of starting from P18 I had to take some risks. I tried to overtake Pierre [Gasly] I think. Somehow I don’t know what really happened this lap but lots of cars went wide in this corner, I think Pierre and Marcus nearly went in the gravel like me.

“But I just lost it because I tried to out-brake Pierre who also braked quite late so was just too much so I had to go wide

“There was not one point where I said ‘ah it’s done’ or we are going to be in the points. I just pushed like crazy, and even more after my error, to just catch up and do a better job after it and it just worked out.”

The double points finish in Spielberg sees Sauber continue to put space between itself and Williams at the bottom of the Formula 1 world constructors’ championship while the Swiss team has now closed to just three points behind Toro Rosso Honda.

Leclerc's performance could also continue to ramp up speculation linking him to a move to Ferrari to replace Kimi Raikkonen following reports which emerged during the Austrian Grand Prix.

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