Jean-Eric Vergne was eleventh fastest during Free Practice 1 as he made his second appearance for Toro Rosso in a friday F1 session.
The French rookie was less than 0.3 seconds off the pace of Jaime Alguersuari, who was in the other STR6 for the morning run-out.
“This was really like a first session for me, as Korea one month ago was a wash out,” said Vergne. “I believe the team is satisfied with the job I did, as everything went well. I don't think it was anything exceptional, it was just what you would expect from a driver who wants to be in F1 next year.
“From my side, I think I could have done a bit better, but that is in my nature as I don't believe that being a rookie should be a reason not to win right away, even if that approach which I've had since I started karting does not apply to F1 because of the difference between the teams.
“In general, the feeling from the car came back quite quickly after my test last year and all the time I spend in the simulator this year. I was not thinking about my lap times today and overall, it was a positive session. I learned a lot and will use that to do better in Brazil and before that I am looking forward to the test here next week, driving the world championship winning car.”
In the afternoon session, Sebastien Buemi was twelfth fastest and Jaime Alguersuari was fourteenth on the timesheets. Buemi reckons that Toro Rosso could be a bit slower than their rivals this weekend.
“It was a shorter day for me, running only in the afternoon, but I soon got used to the circuit again and I feel pretty confident for the rest of the weekend, based on what we have seen so far,” said the Swiss driver. “However, we seem to be slightly slower than at the last two events, which might be down to the track characteristics. Therefore, it will be important to get the most out of our car data tonight and then on track tomorrow morning. On the plus side, we ran all three tyres and have a good understanding of the Soft and Medium and I see no reason why we can't be fighting for another good result on Sunday.”
Alguersuari also suspects that the team are slightly slower than they were in India a fortnight ago, but is still optimistic of collecting more on Sunday.
“I am pleased with the way today went, getting through a lot of work, evaluating some new things in the morning, as well as having a third Pirelli compound to try,” said the Spaniard. “That was interesting work as the development compound seemed very quick. We were able to do a large number of laps with the extra tyres and I don't think my times mean very much, as I ran into traffic at times.
“The general balance of the car seems good and it looks from our long run that we should be more competitive in the race than in qualifying, which has often been the case this year. We might be a tiny amount slower than at the previous race, but it's not much and I still feel we have the potential to score points on Sunday.”