Nico Rosberg was happy to top the Friday practice timesheets, but he was being realistic about the situation going into he weekend proper.

"That was a good start to the weekend, and whilst it's nice to be quickest today, we know that doesn't count," he said. "The most important thing still is to improve our race pace. For the moment, it looks reasonable but we need to analyse where we are on high fuel levels compared to our competitors."

But Rosberg said that the critical factor was likely to be how the teams make their Pirelli tyres perform on the dusty track surface and in much hotter conditions than those experiences in China last weekend when Rosberg and the team scored their maiden Grand Prix victory in the modern era.

"The conditions are really tough out there, so the race will be quite demanding from the tyre perspective," he said, adding that the overheating problems the team was having with the tyres were "probably the worst they have been."

His team mate Michael Schumacher agreed, noting that the tyres had fallen off very quickly.

"You really have to stay within the limit of them, that's going to be the main issue," said the former multiple world champion, who was fifth fastest on Friday. "Let's see what we can make out of it but the start of the weekend has definitely not been too bad for us."

Mercedes-Benz' Norbert Haug put a more positive spin on the tyre situation and was optimistic about the team's preparations.

"We had a pretty good first day learning quite a lot about the big challenge of how to use the tyres in the best possible way and make them last during the necessary number of laps in the race, there was more grip in the second session which helped," he said. "I think our team has a good understanding of what will be required here on Sunday. Having said that, it is much too early to judge where we are compared to our competitors."

Ross Brawn meanwhile said that it had been a "very solid day of practice" and that they had made progress with the set-up of the car after running a total of 106 laps in the two practice sessions today - nearly two full race distances

"There were no issues and, all in all, it was a very reasonable day," he said. "We've done our homework and know what our priorities are, so that should enable us to work out what we want to tomorrow."

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