Charles Leclerc believes this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix will tell Ferrari whether it has really achieved a significant step forward or if the Scuderia's win in Singapore was a mere one-off.
After claiming pole position at the Italian outfit's home race in Monza and finishing on the podium, Carlos Sainz carried the team back to the winner's circle in Singapore – again from pole – with a remarkable and tactical drive at Marina Bay.
Leclerc crossed the checkered flag in fourth position after missing out on the four-way battle that unfolded at the front of the field in the closing stages of the race due to a delayed pitstop earlier in the event.
But Ferrari's overall performance since F1's reprise at Zandvoort last month suggests that the Scuderia has made significant progress with its SF-23, improving not only its pace but mitigating the degradation issues that weighed on Ferrari's results in the first half of the season.
Leclerc hopes his team can uphold its new-found momentum at Suzuka this week, an important race insists the Monegasque.
"I really hope it’s possible to reproduce that in Suzuka and I’m really looking forward to see that because if we do that, then it’s a really good sign for the future," he said in Singapore.
"I think, as I’ve said coming here, in Zandvoort we ran lots of tests, in Monza we wanted to reconfirm those tests and the understanding of the car and for here we applied everything and it seems to be a big step forward.
"Having said that, Singapore has historically been a very good track for us so we need to wait one more race in order to see if we have done a really good step forward consistently, or if it’s a one off but this I can only tell after Japan."
While all signs point to Ferrari's progress being genuine, there's no denying that its victorious display in Singapore was helped by the unexpected and dramatic slump suffered at Marina Bay by Red Bull.
Leclerc doesn't expect the bulls to falter for a second race in succession.
"I wouldn’t get carried away too much," he said. "I think Red Bull, they are always the main guys to beat and I think in Japan they will be back to where they used to be so let’s wait and see.
"If we really understood that much, honestly if we did that much of a step forward I don’t think it’s expected so it would be a good surprise."
Since Zandvoort, Sainz has clearly stolen a march on Leclerc in terms of their relative performance. And that's a fact that isn't lost on the Monegasque even if he's happy with his teammate's success of late.
"It’s amazing," he acknowledged. "On the other hand, I’m also focusing on myself and I know that the last two race weekends haven’t been the best on my side.
"So I’m really pushing to try to do that step forward and to hopefully look in the medium term what we can do to make me more comfortable in the car."