Sebastian Vettel found cause for optimism on Saturday after he and Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc qualified fifth and sixth for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The four-time champion, in his final season with the Italian team, led the way as the two Ferrari drivers reached Q3 for the first time in three attempts this season.
Their improvement also helped erase some of the embarrassment after they had crashed into one another on the opening lap of last Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix.
He said the team’s aerodynamic upgrade package had produced a significant improvement in performance even if he was 1.3 seconds off the pace set by pole-man Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.
“It’s much better than the previous weekend,” said Vettel referring to Ferrari’s embarrassing outing at the Styrian Grand Prix. “For the first time, we have both cars in Q3.
“We know that Austria didn’t really suit us and we lost a lot of time in the straights and here there are a lot more corners to make up for it.
“The car felt better balanced as well, so we are much closer compared to the people around us, let’s say Racing Point, Red Bull and even McLaren,” he said. “So that is positive.
“We need to make sure we keep that up and now all that matters is to prepare for the race.”
Leclerc said he felt the team had improved in form thanks to a reduced emphasis on straight-line performance and predicted further improvement in Sunday’s race.
“It feels much better, fifth and sixth,” he said. “And I think our race pace is a bit better than our quali’ pace so hopefully we can score some good points for the team.
“This track doesn’t have many straights and at the moment we are quite quick around the corners so that is what makes us a bit more competitive this weekend.”