In stark contrast to 2020, Ferrari has been fighting it out towards the front of the midfield pack with McLaren during the opening four races of the campaign and appeared to have the third-quickest car at the Spanish Grand Prix.

That enabled Leclerc to convert another stunning qualifying performance into a strong P4 at the chequered flag in Barcelona, heading home Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and both McLarens.

And Leclerc believes that a string of promising displays across the past few races shows that Ferrari has successfully eradicated the biggest weaknesses of its 2020 car with its updated SF21.

“I don't think there's a big weakness like there was maybe a bit more last year on the race pace,” Leclerc said.

“I feel like this year it's a lot more balanced and we are actually stronger in qualifying and in the race, so it's good.

“Definitely in Imola we were very strong too. In Bahrain for me, I didn't do a good job personally to keep the tyres as well as I could have done. And in Portimao on my side it was quite good too.”

Ferrari heads to the Monaco Grand Prix trailing McLaren by just five points in a tight battle for third place in the constructors’ championship.

It marks a monumental turnaround in form compared to 2020, when the Italian squad slumped to its worst result in 40 years.

“Last year was definitely a difficult season to accept where we were,” Leclerc added. “But I think the team has done a great job accepting pretty quickly that we are gonna step back and then we've been working in the best way possible.

“I think since that moment onwards and this year we can see that just the team has done a great job, by just making steps in the right direction.

"It shows that all the work that the people have made back in Maranello and all that we have done also here at the track is paying off.

“And we can see from the track, and the road is still is still long, and we want to be fighting for the first positions very soon but I think the way we work is the right one.

“We are just doing a good job as a team so we need to keep going like this.”

 

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