Sebastian Vettel believes Ferrari's pace at the Spanish Grand Prix will show whether or not he can challenge Mercedes for the Formula 1 championship this year.
As the front-running teams deliver major aerodynamic updates this year, Vettel reckons that the pace at Barcelona will be a key indicator for how the title battle will unfold.
When asked if a strong performance in Spain would bode well for the rest of the year, Vettel said: "It doesn't hurt.
"Historically Barcelona has been a good indication of how strong your package is, and I think if we can show that we have made a step forward here, then it will be the case for all the other races that are coming as well.
"Obviously gradually you have to improve, because that is the speed of development of F1 and that is what other people are doing. But it is a good reference."
Vettel also played down comments from Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda who suggested this week that the gap between his team and Ferrari was almost zero.
"First of all Niki says a lot," smiled Vettel. "I hope he is right, and hopefully we can be a little bit more than close.
"Not so long ago, only three months ago, we came here for winter testing and the gap between Mercedes and everyone else was huge.
"I think what happened in these three months for us was very positive. If we can keep the trend up then that is very good news, but the gap is still there."