Sergio Perez has accepted he has “some work to do” to unearth more qualifying speed in Bahrain but was lifted by his long-run potential.
Perez, who has switched from Racing Point to Red Bull, finished the second practice session at the foot of the top 10.
His Red Bull team-mate, Max Verstappen, led the way through both Friday sessions.
“I’m pleased so far with how things are going,” said Perez, who claimed his maiden Formula 1 win in Bahrain last December.
“I’m settling in well and taking some steps forwards.
“If I were to summarise today, I’ve got some work to do on the short runs as over one lap I don’t quite feel the car is within me just yet and I still have to think about what the car is doing.
“But in the long runs I’m more comfortable and I think the pace is there so that’s positive.
“I think we have some work to do on the Soft tyre as there is also room for improvement there.
“But the car is performing well, we have good pace and tomorrow it will be pretty close in qualifying so we need to make sure we get it right and have a good start to the season.”
On his outing in the RB16B, pacesetter Verstappen said: “It’s been a good day again and with the heat and the wind it is not easy to find a perfect balance around the whole lap but overall I would say it was a positive day.
“There are still things to improve and look into for tomorrow, tyre wise and a bit of balance tuning, plus I think it will be even more windy which is a challenge for everyone in these cars.”