Nico Rosberg is optimistic that Mercedes can end its 2012 Formula 1 campaign on a relative high in Brazil this weekend after being encouraged by his pace in Friday practice.
Mercedes has not scored a single point since September's Singapore Grand Prix, and has reverted both its cars to an earlier development specification for Interlagos, eschewing the much-vaunted Coanda exhaust.
But after finishing Friday practice in seventh place, 0.015 seconds slower than team-mate Michael Schumacher, Rosberg believes Mercedes is potentially in for a strong weekend.
Asked by AUTOSPORT if he felt Mercedes was making progress, Rosberg replied: "Yes, I think it's quite good. Pace-wise it's looking OK.
"It's very difficult out there. Really, for everybody. It's so hot, the temperature makes the grip very poor and it's high altitude and everything so there's very poor grip and it's difficult to drive the cars.
"Relatively speaking, pace-wise we are OK. It is nice to see that, in relatively hot temperatures, it's decent, especially on the long run."
Rosberg added that the change of exhaust arrangements had not made a great difference to the car's balance.
"It's very similar," he said. "Set-up wise we have to change a few things, but otherwise it's similar."