Charles Leclerc has claimed he was never conscious of Ferrari being the butt of jokes in the paddock about its performance last year after praising the team for finding a new direction.
The Italian team registered its worst championship finish since 1980 last season and Leclerc’s new team-mate Carlos Sainz was often ribbed about his decision to move from McLaren to join the faltering prancing horse.
Things have quickly turned around, however, with the team this year vying with McLaren for third in the constructors' standings.
Speaking after finishing fourth in the Spanish Grand Prix Leclerc said: “I have never really considered people that have been laughing at us. We have been focusing on ourselves.
“Last year was definitely a difficult season to accept where we were but I think the team has done a great job by accepting pretty quickly that we took a step back and have been working in the best way possible since that moment.
“This year you can see that. The team has made a step in the right direction and it shows that all the work that people have done back in Maranello and at the track is paying off. We can see it on the track.
“The road is still long and we want to be fighting for the first positions soon. The way we work is the right way and we just need to keep working as a team."
Leclerc felt he put together a near-perfect race in Spain last weekend, where he finished ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez and almost 20 seconds ahead of the sixth-placed McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo.
He would have been even further ahead had he not taken the advantage of a ‘free stop’ at the end of the race and added: “I felt very good in the car, everything came together.
“It has been a very strong weekend for me overall, which is good to bounce back from Portimao where I was quite off on the Friday and Saturday especially even though I had a good race on the Sunday.
“I don't think there is a big weakness like there was a bit last year on the race pace. I think this year it is a lot more balanced and we are strong in the qualifying and the race."
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