Ferrari cut McLaren’s lead in the battle for third in the constructors’ championship to just 3.5s points after the United States Grand Prix.

Leclerc comfortably finished fourth at the Circuit of the Americas, over 20 seconds clear of Daniel Ricciardo in fifth.

The Italian manufacturer also had a clear advantage at Istanbul Park, having trailed McLaren on pure pace in the previous Monza and Sochi rounds.

Ferrari introduced its new power unit in Russia and Leclerc believes Ferrari’s improved form is down to the various upgrades rather than specific circuits suiting the car.

“The differences between McLaren and us are very very small, so obviously when we put the new engine in we gained a little bit but it was enough to put us in the best position possible,” Leclerc said.

“Even though 2021 is a season where we are focusing on 2022 we still had two or three upgrades this year that pushed us to perform better every time, so yeah it’s down to the two or three upgrades that we brought this year.”

Carlos Sainz thinks Ferrari’s upgrades have ensured that McLaren can’t run away with third in the championship after building up a sizeable lead following its 1-2 finish at Monza in September.

“I agree with Charles,” Sainz added. “It’s been super tight this year with McLaren, they’ve had the upper hand in some circuits and I think they will still have the upper hand in some of the circuits that are left this season, but the important thing is we’ve put ourselves in a better position thanks to the efforts back at the factory and allows us to put ourselves in a position to take the fight to the last race. 

“Maybe in Sochi and Monza you would think they were the clear favourites to the end now it looks like we’re going to have a good chance and finish the season strongly.”