Formula 1's new aerodynamic regulations have brought with them a new style of driving that Carlos Sainz is still coming to grips with.
Last season, his first with the Scuderia, the 26-year-old proved a match for Leclerc, finishing ahead of him in the standings at the end of the season.
However things haven't gelled quite so quickly this time around, with Sainz openly experimenting with set-up in an effort to more quickly come to grips with the F1-75.
“The technicalities and the specifics, I think they need to stay in the team for the sake of privacy and not giving away too much,” he began.
“This is something so specific and so technical, that it would be very difficult to explain to you guys in the media and I think we need to keep our level of privacy in these kinds of things.
“But I can already tell you that, for me, this has been the best experience, this year so far.
“Experience in terms of just going to a track that 100 days ago I was here with a super-high level of confidence, with last year's car I was super quick in quali and in the race, and I knew exactly what to expect from the car and what the car was giving me.
“100 days later I come back and in corners where last year I was very strong, this year I seem to be struggling quite a bit more and I'm not driving the car the way that it should be driven; together with the car is not giving me exactly a feeling that I that I need for my driving.
“These two combinations of things is the things that I'm working on.”
However, across the weekend he seemed somewhat closer to Leclerc than he had on the opening weekend of the year.
“This weekend I think I made a step forward and I made a step in the right direction for the race,” he said following the race in Saudi Arabia a week ago.
“But I must say that has also given me the awareness of the two or three types of corner that two or three places that last year I was feeling so comfortable that this year I'm not.
“It has given me good data points to work on and become stronger for the future.”