Despite starting P4 on the Spanish GP grid, Charles Leclerc says reaching the podium on Sunday will be “very difficult”.

Leclerc and his team-mate Carlos Sainz put in Ferrari’s best qualifying performance of this season, finishing fourth and sixth respectively in Saturday’s qualifying.

But with two Mercedes drivers and a Red Bull ahead of the Monégasque driver, Leclerc concedes a top three showing may be one position too far.

Instead the target is to finish ahead of McLaren.

The Woking team is Ferrari’s main rival in the fight for best of the rest in the Constructors’ Championship with McLaren 11 points ahead of Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris will line up seventh and ninth at the Circuit de Catalunya.

But while Ferrari have outqualified McLaren in all three of the opening races this season, it is Norris who has achieved the better result on the Sunday.

P4! Today was good but let's make Sunday even better ? pic.twitter.com/wR3U82F0hC

— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) May 8, 2021

Show your support for Charles Leclerc with his official merchandise collection on the Formula 1 store

“Anything is possible but realistically I think it’s going to be very difficult,” Leclerc said of the possibility of bagging a podium finish.

“In normal conditions I don’t believe we can keep that third place in case we get there at one point.

“The goal is to extract the maximum out of the car, and if third is the best we can do than we can be third, but I think the most important is that we try to score with both cars as much points as possible.”

He added: “We are in front of both McLarens which are our main competitors for this year and this is an important fight.

“We need to try and take as much points home as possible.”

Sainz reckons Ferrari’s result will depend on whether they can manage the medium tyres having struggled with that at the previous round in Portugal.

“We are carrying a bit of a deficit in the race, in terms of tyre management, we’re still not where we want to be,” said the Spaniard.

“In Portimao, we struggled a lot and we saw on Friday, again, we don’t have the best of race paces or tyre degradation.

“But, at the same time, if we get a good start and execute the strategy well, I still think we can finish in front of the rest.”

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