After Mercedes dominated the opening practice session of the weekend, finishing 0.9s ahead of the closest challenger in Leclerc, Ferrari bounced back to record a one-two of its own in FP2 with Leclerc leading the way.
While the Monegasque driver admitted he was still expecting a tough fight to beat Mercedes, he said he felt the Italian team made a sizeable step forward in the second practice session on Friday.
"It has been a positive day. The step we have done from FP1 to FP2 has been very good," Leclerc told media after FP2 on Friday
"Now we need to do the same one from FP2 to FP3 and FP3 to quali and then hopefully we can challenge them.
"I still believe that Mercedes is very strong. I expect it will be very hard to beat them in qualifying.
"So we need to work very hard. We did a good step in terms of performance from FP1 to FP2, the car felt better, but we should do another step to try and hopefully challenge the Mercedes.
"I think it goes together. If you are quick in the straights you will be a bit more struggling in the corners. At the moment it's our compromise and that's how we work the best. We'll see if it's enough."