Mercedes GP man Michael Schumacher was bullish following practice for the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday at the Shanghai International Circuit and reckoned that things had gone better than expected.
Schumacher was fourth fastest in both sessions and with team-mate Nico Rosberg also going well in the sister car – and ending up second in FP1 and FP2 – the seven-time F1 world champion added that in his view they have definitely made some progress.
Indeed despite a puncture this morning, Schumacher managed to do over 40 laps in total, his best time a 1 minute 35.602 seconds.
"I was a bit unlucky this morning as I had a puncture on my rear left prime tyre so we had to use one from the afternoon's allocation. That meant I only had three new tyres in the second session but it worked out fine in the end," Schumacher stated.
"Overall today's practice sessions went better than I had expected. The handling was pretty much okay and it seems that we have made a small step forward.
"We brought some improvements here including the new rear wing which have helped. So I am quite confident for the rest of the weekend even if the overall ranking will not change much from the first three races."
Rosberg meanwhile was also pretty happy, although like Schumacher, he reckons the peaking order is likely to be similar to Malaysia. He did 39 laps in total, his best a 1m 35.462s, which left him two tenths off pace setter Lewis Hamilton.
"We made good progress on the set-up over the course of the day and tried some new directions which all seemed to work okay," Rosberg continued. "I did lose a little bit of balance with too much oversteer at the end of the afternoon so we need to look into the reasons for that.
"The long runs were pretty good on my side and with the work that Michael completed, we should be in a good position on our tyre evaluations. The pattern looks pretty similar to Malaysia in terms of our pace compared to other teams but we'll have to wait and see how it works out tomorrow."
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn echoed the thoughts of his drivers: "Generally a positive day and initial evaluations are that we have made some progress with the car," Brawn summed-up.
"As we know the two tyres well now, we focused more on the mechanical and aerodynamic set-up of the car today.
"We are not quite there with the balance over the entire lap but Nico and Michael achieved some respectable lap times. We are improving step-by-step but there is a long way to go and we won't be happy until we can consistently compete with the cars ahead."