Daniel Ricciardo is hoping that he and his Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen will be able to push Ferrari hard in Brazil this weekend.
"Comparing ourselves to Ferrari, it doesn't seem too bad," said Ricciardo, when asked how free practice had gone for the team.
“I’m pretty happy with Friday. For what we’ve got here we looked competitive. The long runs looked okay.
"We are in the fight with Ferrari at the moment," he predicted. "It’s never a circuit where we have dominated in the past. To be close to Ferrari and at least in the fight with them seems positive.
"I think the car was behaving relatively well, so a few small changes tonight but nothing too big," he mused. "We can definitely find a little bit more for tomorrow but I don’t think we’re far off. We don’t have to make many changes."
However, Ricciardo was dubious whether the team could find enough to close the gap on a dominant Mercedes. "The Mercs looked really strong," he said.
"Mercedes still has a bit of pace over everyone at the moment," he admitted. [They] are really quick on high fuel.
"We seem pretty good on low fuel, but they're quick on high fuel so I think they'll have a bit more on low fuel for tomorrow."
Given his ten-place grid penalty for a new MGU-H, Ricciardo is also looking to the gods to provide him with some assistance this weekend.
"I’d like some rain for qualifying tomorrow and I can try and fight for pole," he said. "I know if I get it I won’t start there because of my penalty, but anyway it would be good to start 11th for the race. That’s my target.”
Verstappen shared his team mate's concerns about Mercedes' apparent advantage at Interlagos.
"I don't know yet," he said when asked if he could possibly pull off a back-to-back win. "I think the Mercedes is quick but if we can make some improvements then we are there or thereabouts.
"The pace on the soft, it seems like Mercedes is very quick," he said. "We know that they are normally a bit harder on the tyres so maybe that's why the soft works quite well for them."
"Our car for the last few races has definitely been the quickest car," he pointed out. "We just need a bit more top speed. I think the car itself is pretty good.
"Of course I always want to go faster - and Mercedes are quicker than us at the moment," he admitted. "We need to make improvements before tomorrow because we know that in qualifying they will step up their engine.
"I think we need to be at least the same speed or faster than Mercedes in the final practice to have a chance of getting on the front row of the grid.”