Although Sebastian Vettel believes "others" are the favourites in Bahrain, he reckons Red Bull have taken a step forward.
The double World Champion has floundered in the opening stint of this year's campaign as he has yet to claim his first victory - or front row grid slot - and has in fact netted just one podium finish.
After three races he is fifth in the Championship on 28 points.
However, there were signs of improvement in Bahrain on Friday when, using the latest exhaust configuration on his RB8, Vettel finished third in practice, 0.709s behind Nico Rosberg.
"We did a lot of running today, so that's good," said the German.
"Regarding set-up, I think we got the answers in China that we were looking for and that's helped us here. "We now need to see where we are against what everyone else did today.
"It's very hot here, so the tyres are suffering a little as a result, but it's the same for all teams.
"I think others are the favourites this weekend, but we are focusing on ourselves and pushing hard. We made a step forward, but we see where we are tomorrow."
It was also a good start to the weekend for Mark Webber, who was second quickest, 0.446s off the pace. The Aussie reckons qualifying and Sunday's grand prix could be decided by tyre wear, something all the teams struggled with on Friday.
"It was quite challenging out on track, trying to get everything together," he said.
"The tyres were a bit of a surprise for everybody in terms of how they are behaving, they're losing their grip pretty quick, but that's the same for everybody.
"There are some quick cars out there - of course we don't know which fuel loads people were running, but it looks pretty tight again. Tyres will play a big role on Sunday in the race."