Kimi Raikkonen says is more upbeat about the performance of his Lotus in Japan than he has been for the last few races.
Despite a spin early in second free practice, Raikkonen reckons he has made progress with extracting single-lap speed from his car.
However, his Lotus team admits that it must make improvements to how it handles the harder of the two available tyres in the race if it is to repeat the strong form it showed in Korea.
Raikkonen said: "It has been better, more to my liking today, than it has been for the last few races, especially on one lap.
"That is a good thing, but tomorrow is a new day and it might be a completely different story. We have to wait and see, but it was not too bad."
Raikkonen said his spin into the gravel trap was down to pushing too much and getting caught out by the tricky windy conditions that affected the day's running.
"It happens sometimes," he explained. "It was quite windy today, so I think it didn't help.
"It has been a bit tricky the whole day, but I pushed just a bit too much and spun. No damage or anything. I just didn't do as many laps as we wanted but it is not a big deal."
Both Raikkonen and team-mate Romain Grosjean admitted that while the car was good on the medium tyre, it was not as comfortable on the harder compound.
Grosjean said: "It was not an easy one to be honest. It is hard to get the tyres to work properly and get the car into the window.
"It was very windy as well. It is a high speed track, but it was much better on medium tyres than on the hard, and we worked from there.
"There are some things we want to try to test and tune a little bit to make the car get better and hopefully it will pay more tomorrow morning."