Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Ferrari are a challenger for this year's Formula 1® drivers' and constructors' titles, despite Max Verstappen's victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Following his DNF in the season opener in Bahrain, Verstappen bounced back to claim the 25 points in a tightly contested race.
With Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz on the podium in both races, however, Ferrari have opened up an early 40-point lead in the constructors' championship. Leclerc has also added to his respective first and second-placed finishes with two bonus points from fastest laps.
According to Horner, it is a sign of their legitimacy and strength this season.
"Ferrari have got a great car, they've got great drivers," he told Sky Sports. "It was a really tough battle. If that's what we're set for the rest of the season... from what we've seen in the first two races, it's been epic.
"They're all competitive teams. Ferrari are a big team, they've been a sleeping giant for a couple of years. They've got great strength in depth. It was just a great motor race. We enjoyed it, it was good hard racing between the drivers, and let's see what happens in Australia."
In the second consecutive race this season, Verstappen and Leclerc were locked in a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle, with the defending champion seeing off the Ferrari challenge in Jeddah this time.
Horner praised the reigning world champion's race management, with Verstappen well placed to hold off Leclerc's late charge, while also saving some words for fourth-placed pole-sitter Sergio Perez.
"It was a very patient race from Max," Horner said. "He looked after the tyres for the end of the race there, and then after the last safety car, he really went for it.
"[Sergio] has driven brilliantly all weekend. He got that pole, his race pace was great, and he's just got unlucky with track position with the safety car. We've seen that happen sometimes."
The F1® season resumes in April with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.