Nico Hulkenberg was seventh quickest in Thursday's second practice. (Photo: Getty Images)

was seventh quickest in Thursday’s second practice. (Photo: Getty Images)

is looking to get both its cars well inside the top 10 in qualifying after a promising start to the week in practice on Thursday.

In FP1 and Nico Hulkenberg were eighth and 10th, while in the afternoon they were sixth and seventh, although not all top drivers set representative times.

“I’m very optimistic for the weekend,” said Perez. “Although Thursday was not representative, especially P2. I think the pace of the car is better than what we expected, and I’m confident that on Saturday I’ll be able to take the maximum out of the car, and let’s see where we end up.”

Meanwhile Hulkenberg was pleased with progress:“We only ran at the very end, and I think we got the perfect time,” said the German. “With 12 minutes to go I was pretty much the first car out on slicks, I think with Vergne, and it was pretty much dry apart from a little bit into Turn 1, which was slightly damp, and Mirabeau and into the tunnel. But the rest was dry. So it wasn’t too tricky.

“Grip is always an issue you always want more of it, but you have to deal with what you’ve got. I think we are generally quite OK and in the ballpark already in terms of setup. There’s still the usual tweaks and balance work to be done, but overall I think it’s been quite a positive day.”

The lack of running in FP2 was disappointing not just for the fans, but also the drivers. However, there was good reason for the lack of action.

“We’re not expecting rain for Saturday, and there’s always a risk that you can damage the car,” said Perez. “It’s really hard for the fans, but at the same time our teams have other worries, we have a limited budget, and we don’t want to damage parts.”

“It’s risky, and some teams maybe still don’t have too many spare parts, and what do you learn from it?,” said Nico. “The rest of the weekend is supposed to be dry and different, so why would you go out and run and take the risk? It’s a big pity, but that’s F1.”

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