Lewis Hamilton says it will be crucial for his McLaren team to enjoy a strong qualifying in order to fight for victory in this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.
The Briton has started from 11th and 20th in the last two races, but has shown very strong race pace after that. After setting the quickest time in practice on Friday, Hamilton is aiming for a place in the top five in tomorrow's qualifying.
"You've seen our pace in the last two races," Hamilton said after practice. "It's been pretty good. But we've come from the back. We've come from 11th up to the front and from 20th up to the front so, ideally, we'd like to get into Q3 and have a top-five start tomorrow which would enable us to have a competitive run for the win."
The McLaren driver admitted he was positive after his performance on Friday, but warned that the important result will be tomorrow.
"The day has been good. The car feels very nice to drive as it did in Malaysia," he said. "We've made some subtle changes and the long runs feel pretty good. So I've come out of P1 and P2 with a positive feeling, but you never know what's going to happen tomorrow. We just need to keep our heads down and focus on trying to get a much better qualifying position tomorrow."
Teammate Jenson Button, quickest in the morning session, was also encouraged by his day's work, despite traffic hindering his run on soft tires.
"Today's been a good day, actually," Button said. "This afternoon was a bit frustrating. On my new-tire run with the softer tire I had traffic. But, apart from that, the actual work we've done is positive. We are happy with the direction we've taken. There's a few more things we need to do but we are almost getting the maximum out of the car, especially on the long runs.
"I'm quite happy with the balance. There are quite a few things I want to play around with this evening, but it's all working reasonably well. We came here with a pretty good car anyway, so we haven't really gone too far away from what we came here."
Still, the World Champion says he is expecting the Red Bull team to be the one to beat in qualifying: "I don't think the Red Bulls have showed their hand yet. The Ferraris had a tough day and they've been testing lots of straightline speed packages. But the Red Bulls will be quick and they are the ones to beat."