Ferrari’s strategy might have cost it a double podium opportunity in the Austrian Grand Prix but it is making progress against its rivals, according to Fred Vasseur.

Charles Leclerc finished second to Max Verstappen on Sunday but Carlos Sainz was shadowing his teammate for the first stint before both cars were brought into the pits under an early Virtual Safety Car. Two slow stops resulted in Sainz losing time and track position, later picking up track limits penalties that demoted him from fourth – after a thrilling podium fight with Sergio Perez – to sixth.

“Probably yes, he was not far away from the (pace) of Charles,” Vasseur said of Sainz’s chance of a podium. “We need to have a look on the strategy if it was a good one. I think it was a good one for the pit wall. For sure they brought out the VSC 10 meters too late for us, because we were already on the white line, and (ended it) 10 meters too early because we are still into the pit lane. But we cannot predict when they remove the Safety Car or VSC. It is like it is.

“We have to be focused, everybody has to be focused on ourselves. We are doing a good job together with the team, the drivers. We are going in the right direction. I want to keep this going.

“For (Silverstone) I don’t know, it’s so tight. I don’t want to speak about Max, but in our group with Mercedes and Aston, you never know before the weekend who will be in a good position. With Max, there is still a gap. It means that we have to continue to develop the car and push. But what is positive for us is that we’re going into the right direction, compared to Montreal, we are going in the right direction. We have to continue like this and continue the development.”

Despite back-to-back races where Ferrari has shown improved pace on Sundays, Vasseur is still not convinced it is a trend that will continue for the rest of the season.

“I don’t know. It’s true that Canada was a very strong one in terms of race pace, and we were waiting for Spielberg because it’s a bit different compared to the other track layout and tarmac, and it was a good confirmation this weekend.

“But it’s a never-ending project, never-ending discussion each week that teams are bringing upgrades, pushing… We have different tarmacs, different layouts – next weekend will be a completely different one, and we have to continue to develop the car to give to the drivers a better quality.”