Daniel Ricciardo felt the Pirelli tyres were being worked hard during free practice at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, especially towards the end of his long runs, but still finished inside the top five in both sessions on Friday.
The Red Bull Racing driver had finished fourth in the opening session, 0.476 seconds behind pacesetter Lewis Hamilton, but dropped to fifth in the afternoon, 0.557 seconds behind the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team racer.
Ricciardo felt that Red Bull were closer to Mercedes than he expected them to be, but agrees with team-mate Max Verstappen that rain will make it an even playing field with their rivals on race day.
“Today it was really hot and you could feel the tyres were having a hard time, and it means we were not as quick as we’d like,” said Ricciardo. “On the long run today I didn’t feel we were that strong towards the end of it but I feel that once the track cools it’s going to be completely different.
“We are a bit closer to Mercedes than we probably expected, and there’s still a bit more to come from the car, but to really have a chance to win then I think we need some rain to help us.
“The rain would be fun just to change it up a little bit but even if it’s just cooler tomorrow and on Sunday as forecast it will be better on the tyres. Of course we will try and improve what we have done today but I think tomorrow will be another story.”