Lewis Hamilton said McLaren has a good base to build on after setting the second quicket time in Friday practice in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton led the way in FP1 but was then beaten to top spot by championship leader Sebastian Vettel in the second 90-minute session.
Speaking afterwards, the Briton admitted that McLaren had work to do on the option tyre overnight and said it would be a huge bonus if he could get ahead of the Red Bulls in qualifying.
“Our car looked good in FP1, but FP2 was a little bit more of a challenge for me,” he said. “It was quite tricky to get a good time from the option tyre, so tonight we'll need to do some work around figuring out how to switch our ptions on.
“We anticipated that Sebastian would be quick – and, in FP2, in particular, the Red Bulls duly picked up pace. But, as I say, our car was quick in FP1, and very near the top of the time-sheets all day, so we've got plenty to build on.
“We'll work as hard as we can tonight, as always, and, if we can get ahead of the Red Bulls in qualifying tomorrow, it'll be a huge bonus for us.”
Team-mate Jenson Button was third quickest and he too admitted that the team need to make sure it got the maximum possible from the option tyre in Saturday's qualifying session.
“Overall, our car has been working pretty well today – we're certainly in better shape here than we were in India last weekend. Everything seems to be working well, and the car is fun to drive. There are some small areas where we need to improve, but we know what we need to do.
“It's going to be crucial to get the options working well for qualifying tomorrow. I wanted to do plenty of laps during my long run today, since I missed out on quite a lot of long-run running on Friday in Delhi – and that set me back for the rest of the Indian Grand Prix weekend. I'm pleased to report that our car feels reasonably good over a long run here, so now we're going to be focusing on understanding just how hard we can push the tyre during a long run.
“If our race pace can be as quick as the Red Bulls', then that's probably even more important for Sunday's race than qualifying in front of them on Saturday will be.”