Force India's Paul di Resta believes it will be a struggle to make Q3 after Friday's practice session for the Korean Grand Prix.
However, the Scottish driver is positive that the team can be a much stronger force in the race after completing several longer runs.
"Obviously we have our targets and I think we had good balance today and Mercedes has moved up so if we want to get into Q3 then that is going to be difficult," said di Resta, 13th quickest today.
"I think we can improve quite a bit and I think we chose to concentrate on Sunday quite a bit anyway," he said.
"It is a tricky place to get the balance right and we are not particularly strong on one sector I would say but I think managing the compounds is the hard bit.
"With the temperature as it is obviously quite a bit cooler than we have run recently and obviously get an idea ahead of Sunday."
Di Resta's Force India team-mate Nico Hulkenberg echoed these feelings after only running in the second session.
"I think the long run was OK. I expected a lot more tyre degradation on the super soft but it seems to be quite stable but on the soft it wasn't the smoothest run.
"It [qualifying] will be tough like every Saturday but I think it [Q3] is possible and I am positive." he said.
Force India enters the race in seventh in the constructors' standings, trailing Sauber by 35 points.