Having come into criticism recently for his inability to match the pace of his team mate, Yuji Ide made a step forward in practice for the San Marino Grand Prix, by pushing Takuma Sato harder than he has done on previous occasions.

Although did once again emerge at the foot of the timesheets, Ide got within 0.2 seconds of Sato in the first session, although that gap increased to just over a second in the afternoon.

Nonetheless, with far less experience around the tricky Imola circuit than his countryman, Ide was pleased with what he had achieved in the day, claiming that the three-week break has really helped him gain a better set-up on his car.

"After the Australian Grand Prix I was not happy with my past results, so I had an important meeting with the engineers in UK before we came to Imola," Ide said. "I am glad we had this particular meeting since I feel that the car is working much better for me and I think that I will be able to show a better performance than during the past races.

"I was able to have a clear run today and I am feeling more confident about the Qualifying session tomorrow. I won't be able to make up too many places, but I am hoping that it may be my best qualifying and starting position so far."

Team principal Aguri Suzuki was also pleased with Ide's growing confidence in the car and his surroundings in Formula One and was looking forward to closing the gap to their competitors even more come qualifying.

"I think Yuji is getting used to handling the car and starting to feel more comfortable with it. It is good to see him growing in confidence and getting used to his F1 surroundings.

"I know that there are a lot of things we need to improve and our performances are far from the top level, however, we are taking very good steps forward. As I always say, we want to improve the team and performance step-by-step. I am looking forward to the Qualifying tomorrow."