Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says they have the best driver line-up on the grid in Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr.

That would have been a tough claim to make at the end of last year: Leclerc decisively held the upper hand over Sebastian Vettel and came within one point of scoring three times his team mate’s points haul. But Vettel’s replacement Sainz has settled in remarkably quickly, even for a driver with recent experience of making multiple team moves, and especially given the tight restrictions on testing.

Early in the season Sainz described Leclerc as F1’s best driver over a single flying lap. He must therefore feel particularly chuffed at having out-qualified him three times. When Leclerc took his controversial pole position in Monaco after crashing on his final lap Sainz was very close to his team mate’s pace and felt he was robbed of a better starting position when the shunt forced him to abandon his final run.

Sainz had a crash of his own last time out in Hungary, but until then there had been a clear trend of improvement in his qualifying performances too. He was no more than two-tenths off Leclerc in the four previous sessions.

Sainz and Leclerc were even on points immediately after the Hungarian Grand Prix, before Vettel’s disqualification spoiled the symmetry. Sainz’s promotion to third place puts him slightly ahead, though this flatters him a little. Leclerc was unable to start in Monaco and was taken out on lap one in Hungary. That said, Leclerc was responsible for Pierre Gasly’s lap one retirement in the Styrian Grand Prix, and was unpunished.

So while the points may say otherwise, Leclerc is leading the way at Ferrari, though not to anything like the extent he did last year. The best driver-line up in F1? Contrasting how close these two are compared to the pairings at Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren, Binotto may well be right.

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Charles Leclerc vs Carlos Sainz Jnr: Key stats

Charles Leclerc vs Carlos Sainz Jnr: Who finished ahead at each round

Charles Leclerc vs Carlos Sainz Jnr: Qualifying gap

Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time. Negative indicates Charles Leclerc was faster, positive means Carlos Sainz Jnr was faster

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