Narain Karthikeyan says he is "fairly confident" he will be able to qualify for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Hispania driver, who failed to set a time within the 107 percent in Australia, finished today's practice 6.3sec off the pace, but within the 107 percent time. The 107 percent time today was 1m43.657s, with the Indian's best a 1m43.197s.
Karthikeyan said he was quite optimistic about making the grid in Sepang, but admitted anything is possible because of the small margin.
"I'm fairly confident, but still half a second this way or that way...anything can happen," said Karthikeyan. "At least we did a few laps today – not the maximum that we hoped for because both of our cars had various problems. But, nevertheless, it's something to work on, we are not completely in the dark, but I would still be very careful. To say that we will qualify easily would not be the right thing. But we look OK."
He added: "We have to be in the race to get the mileage and then we learn more. But this is a hard circuit. We need a lot of downforce and probably this track and Barcelona will be hard. It's not all negative. The team seems to be doing a good job and if they keep going at it we shouldn't be so bad. That's my feeling."
The Indian also ruled out being able to match the pace of rival Marussia Virgin, especially after the team looked stronger than in Australia during today's practice.
"Not this weekend, honestly," he said when asked if out-qualifying Virgin was possible. "But Virgin were not so bad compared to where they were in Australia – they are much closer."
Karthikeyan also conceded it was a concern that, because of hard tires expected to be used more in the race, Red Bull could use the softer rubber since Q1, thus making it more difficult for him to qualify.
"That's a worry, yes. If they go faster, it makes it harder for us. Everybody used option tires today, so we still have a reasonable chance to qualify tomorrow."