McLaren and Ferrari have been locked in a titanic scrap for third in the constructors’ championship for the whole season.

Ferrari reduced McLaren’s lead to just 7.5 points after the Turkish Grand Prix last time out, although the Woking-based outfit looks best placed to pull away again in the standings after Lando Norris ended second practice at the Circuit of the Americas second-fastest.

“FP1 was very good, especially on the low fuel runs,” Leclerc said after ending FP2 in seventh. “And then, FP2 a little less positive on the low fuel runs but the high fuel runs looked good, so this is the most important for Sunday. Still lacking a little bit here and there but it is a very challenging track, and we need to find a little bit the balance between quali and the race.

“We are very, very close as it’s been since the beginning of the year. We just need to try and do everything perfect to try and beat them, and be consistent at our job until the end of the season.”

Teammate Carlos Sainz ended the day in ninth, 0.7s shy of Norris’ impressive time.

The Spaniard is confident that he has more time in hand after encountering traffic and making a mistake on his best lap in FP2.

“I have a smile because first of all I have enjoyed myself a lot, it’s a great track to drive and every lap that I do here I just enjoy it. It has a really nice flow, a really nice vibe to it and as a driver, I enjoy it a lot,” Sainz added.

“And the car, the setup in FP1 was quite tricky with the bumps, some setup tuning and for FP2 we managed to improve it quite a lot, so I was a bit happier in general in FP2 although the timesheets don’t show it, because I had a pretty scrappy third sector with traffic and a mistake. In general happier and looking forward to tomorrow.”

With tyre degradation expected to play a key role in Sunday’s grand prix due to the hot temperatures, Sainz admitted that Ferrari is focusing more on race trim.

“It is going to be very tough [on tyres],” Sainz explained. “It was already very tough today. A lot of the setup work we will do overnight will be to try and optimise the long run because here the race is important, you can overtake so it doesn’t help to have a car that is good over one lap but not in the race.

“Here you put more bias and more emphasis to try and get a car that is performing well on Sunday.”