Daniel Ricciardo was less at home in the upgraded RB13 compared to Red Bull Racing team-mate Max Verstappen.
The Australian described an almost roller-coaster of a day, segmented with both ups and downs.
“There were times today where the car felt pretty good but at times we were still trying to find our way with the new package,” he said.
Ricciardo was unable to better sixth place during practice, around three-tenths down on Verstappen, and at best 0.783s off pace setter Lewis Hamilton.
He feels that the car was more suited to the softer compound, and apportions the blame for a poorer first session on the hard tyres.
“The car was starting to come alive on the soft tyre this afternoon which was nice, but with the harder compounds we still have some improvements to make,” he continued.
Despite this, he does recognise that the team has taken a step forward, even if they remain behind both Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
Though they were not expecting to rival Mercedes, it does sound as though they were hoping to reel in Ferrari, who remain around three-tenths ahead.
“I do see a step forward and we aren’t looking too bad against Ferrari but I’m sure they will also have more to bring tomorrow,” he said. “We need to keep evolving with this new package now and fully understand it.
“We didn’t come here expecting to be as quick as Mercedes but we are feeling a bit of progress and now we just need to keep fine tuning everything to get a few more tenths out of the car.”
Once again it appears that we will have to wait until Saturday practice, and more likely qualifying, before we see just where everyone stands.
“I think we are in line with what we predicted and tomorrow we will have a much better idea about whether the gap to the leaders has been closed,” he added.