Kimi Raikkonen believes the conditions may have flattered Ferrari in the Malaysian Grand Prix, but he reckons the Italian team is not too far behind Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel took a sensational victory at Sepang, beating favourites Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to grab his first win with Ferrari.
Raikkonen recovered to a strong fourth place after dropping to the bottom of the field due to a punctured tyre on the opening lap.
The Finn reckons the intense heat may have helped Ferrari, but he does not believe its rivals are that far ahead.
"I think it might be the conditions," said Raikkonen of Ferrari's form.
"It was very hot and that's good for us, but I think even in Melbourne if we could have got behind them [Mercedes] at the beginning I don't think they would have pulled away a lot.
"We know that we are not exactly as fast as them over one lap, but we are working on that.
"But comparing where we finished last year and where we are this year it's a big step."
Hamilton concurred with Raikkonen's comments, and said: "In the past, they’ve struggled to get tyres working in cooler temperatures, so it steers them towards this being a good track for them. Others maybe not."
Nasr collision causes puncture
Raikkonen's left-rear tyre was punctured as a result of contact with the Sauber of Felipe Nasr on the opening lap.
The Ferrari said fourth the best possible result given the early incident.
"I think we did the maximum we could after that," he added. "There's not much that I can do when I get touched from behind. It is what it is.
"Luckily there was a safety car and we had pretty okay speed although we had had damage from the car flapping around.
"Like I said, we did the maximum that we we could. It's a very good result for the team with the win."