A week on from an erratic, but ultimately rapid performance in the Chinese Grand Prix, Pastor Maldonado has enjoyed a strong start to the Bahrain Grand Prix with the seventh fastest time in FP2.

The Lotus driver, who is yet to score this season, put himself within range of Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, saying the car is performing better than it did in China.

"The balance we have is not too bad, the car performed quite OK and hopefully we can even improve a little bit for tomorrow so it's looking better to the previous weeks."

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"We were not so fast on the Friday [in China] but even in P3 I struggled a lot with the car. I remember in P3 we were something like P15 and then we improved again for quail but we were arriving a bit late to the top performance and then in the race it was very good.

"Now things like we are starting from a better point and that is much better because you can focus on driving and on improving and not dealing with problems with set-up or whatever in the car."

Looking forward, though Maldonado believes Ricciardo's Red Bull has the edge over a single lap, he feels he is more comparable in race trim.

"The Red Bulls look quite quick, especially on a single lap but we know in the race we have something else than them. I think the degradation; we've always been quite good on the tyre degradation in the past, so that can help us to play with the strategy and even to be maybe faster than the others after a few laps."