Daniel Ricciardo is confident that Toro Rosso can be the in the mix for points on Sunday.
The Australian said that while he did not expect his fifth place finish in second practice to be representative, it was nevertheless a sign that Toro Rosso has the potential to challenge for top 10 honours.
"I think today was a good day, and when [that happens] we are always swimming around that top 10," Ricciardo said. "We finished fifth, so it's not real – I'd be surprised if we qualify fifth, let's put it that way.
"It's promising, but I think a few of the guys we were in front of probably have a bit more in reserve. Hopefully we do too, but I'd imagine they've probably got a bit more – we were in front of both Red Bulls, for example, so I'd expect both of them to jump.
"It is a close fight, though. I think with Ferrari, Force India, Sauber and Williams you'd expect it to be pretty close. Lotus you'd expect to be quicker than us, but I think we are in the ballpark."
Ricciardo also said tire management was another positive facet of Toro Rosso's opening day in Malaysia, adding: "I think we are in the group that is doing OK. For me it is one of those tracks where you are always going to hope a bit more: you'll come up to lap 10 and hope you can get to lap 15, but then you might not. I think that'll be the case for a lot of drivers.
"Considering the nature of the circuit and the high temperatures, I think we were looking pretty good this afternoon. It's hard to know what fuel everyone is on but I think if we worry about ourselves it's definitely the right thing to do."
Asked about his deficit of just seven tenths of a second to Lewis Hamilton, Ricciardo replied: "It looks very good but honestly I don't expect we'll be within a second tomorrow in qualifying.
"It was what today, seven tenths or something? I'll be a happy man if that's [the case tomorrow] because that'd mean we have a pretty good car this year."