Renault's Carlos Sainz says he is feeling much happier in the car this week in Shanghai than he was last time out in Bahrain.
Although he succeeded in making it through to the final round of qualifying last weekend, Sainz finished the race outside the points in 11th place.
"I was not comfortable with the car," he told Spain's AS newspaper. "We lacked grip on the rear in the slow corners, at the front in the fast corners. With that balance it's very difficult to lead the middle of the grid."
He's hoping for better in China - and it's so far, so good for the 23-yer-old.
"It was a clean Friday and I’m feeling more comfortable with the car," he said after the two 90-minute free practice sessions. "The balance is better than it was in Bahrain.
"We still need to look at the long-runs and make a step forward in that area but it’s certainly an encouraging Friday for us.
"It’s a lot trickier this weekend," he added. "In terms of tyres and there’s a big gap between the compounds and a lot of tyre degradation.
"We’ll analyse that area and then assess the strategic options we have for Sunday."
Sainz was eighth fastest at the end of FP2, within a second of the top times set by Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen. His team mate Nico Hulkenberg was a tenth and a half ahead and was sixth fastest.
That still puts the works team some way off the pace of Mercedes, Ferrari and even Red Bull, which uses customer Renault engines.
Sainz had earlier said that he agreed with Red Bull motorsports consultant Dr Helmut Marko that Renault still had a long way to go to achieve its objective of being a championship contender.
"Helmut is someone who says things very directly and very clearly," Sainz commented. "When he is right, he is right.
"Right now we do need to improve. I said it in Bahrain," he added. "We know that some like Toro Rosso took a very big step. But we hope over the whole year to make an even bigger step.
"That's the goal of a factory team like Renault with aspirations to become world champion in a couple of years."