Sebastian Vettel believes his lead in the world drivers' championship reflects the hard work Ferrari has put in throughout the 2017 Formula One season.
The German returned to winning ways at last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix to claim the Italian outfit's first victory since Monaco in May. The win means Vettel heads into F1's summer break with a 14-point cushion over closest rival Lewis Hamilton.
It is the first time since 2013 -- Vettel's last championship-winning campaign -- that he has held a points lead at this stage of a season. Vettel also holds an ominous record of having never been beaten to the title in a season in which he has led the championship.
"It's been rewarding for the team," Vettel explained. "It's a fact to say in the last couple of years we didn't have the best car and a fact to say in the last few years we weren't the strongest as developing the car, but I think if you look at the progression this year is a different story and we keep progressing.
"It's more important to lead the championship after the last race, but I think it's the best position to be in, you don't want to be on the back foot. Equally the season is long, there's a lot of races to come and a lot of things that can happen."
Ferrari's second one-two of the season has seen the team reduce the gap to Mercedes in the constructors' standings to 39 points. Despite admitting Ferrari has weaknesses in some areas compared to Mercedes, Vettel remains confident the Scuderia is in a strong position to stay on course with the Silver Arrows in the fight for both world championships.
"The team is a much better shape this year," he said. "I think we have all the ingredients to stay there and have a good second half of the season. If you have the right results coming your way you start to pick up a bit of momentum so it's up to us to keep it going, but I'm quite confident we have the right people, we know how to build a good car, we've also improved the engine massively, so everything is going in the right direction. We will see in terms of time whether we will be ahead of behind but I'm confident we will be there and fight for hopefully a lot of big points.
"We brought a lot of bits, we have seen a lot of bits from other people copying us, but that's a good sign and a testimony of hard and good work and the achievement that has gone into this car and this project. We will keep pushing flat out. I think we've been competitive everywhere we went. It's true also to say Mercedes has been more competitive [in some places] and we've been a bit behind.
"It's normal that from track to track there's a bit of a difference. We want to be quickest at every place we go which is currently not the case, but we're working on it. We have quite a good understanding of what the car needs and now we have some time to look into a couple of things with peace and calm. What's important is that we know what we need."