HRT duo Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan are confident that qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix should not be too much of a problem, even though doubts remain about their potential to make it through to the end of the race.
Improvements to the power steering of the car, as well as the arrival of DRS, meant both men were comfortably within the mandatory 107 percent time of the pacesetters in practice in Sepang on Friday. However, questions about cooling on the F112 in the hot Malaysia conditions make it more of a question mark about whether they will be able to complete Sunday's 56-lap event.
"We expected to be within 107 percent, with everything like DRS and the new parts working," explained de la Rosa on Friday. "But we should not be over-confident because you never know what fuel and stuff other people are running.
"I think we are looking OK, but we should not stop here. We have to try to get quicker tomorrow as well, because this is the first running of the car reliably that we have had since this car was born."
Asked if he believed it would be too much to expect the team to be able to finish on Sunday, de la Rosa said: "No. Today I haven't had any problems. On the track we are OK on temperatures. We don't have a big margin but we can run as many laps as we want. The problem comes when we stop, but when we are running it is OK.
"If we get into the race on Sunday, it will be our first race, first start, and first pit stops. There so many things that we will learn for sure and we are going to do it in Malaysia with 113-degree track temperature! It's not the easiest scenario, but we have to take this as a test."
Karthikeyan was happy with the performance step of the car in Malaysia, but said that reliability was his biggest concern, after suffering hydraulics problems.
"Our car is definitely behaving better, yes," he said. " It is definitely a step forward performance-wise, but if you look at the lap analysis I have done just two continuous laps.
"My problem is I cannot get into a rhythm. That is my problem, and there are still loads of issues to be addressed. The other car seems to be OK, we need to see what they have done so we can replicate it on this car. We will qualify – but I need to do the race. That is also important."