Valtteri Bottas admits that he was starting to enjoy being behind the wheel of Alfa Romeo's new F1 car during the pre-season test in Bahrain.
After some struggles during last month's testing days in Barcelona, the team seemed to have a more positive experience at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The Swiss outfit achieved more mileage than anyone else on the final day of the test on Saturday, having put in a total of 150 laps before Bottas broke down with what appeared to be a gearbox issue towards the end of the afternoon session.
Across the three days in Bahrain, Bottas set the sixth fastest time of all, with a lap of 1:32.985 recorded on Day 3.
Bottas: There's more to come from the car
Bottas was left feeling positive after the test, and thinks that there is more potential to find in the car.
"For sure, there's more, and I think from everyone there's more," Bottas told media including RacingNews365.com.
"That's how it is normally in testing. But when it [the car] works, it's not bad. I was really starting to like the car. Both high fuel and a little bit lower fuel felt pretty decent.
"Still, we got a clear direction on the set-up, that's where we still need to go to to extract more performance."
There are still areas to adjust to with the new cars, though, according to Bottas.
"It's not easy in general to turn the car quickly and early enough in the corners," the Finn added.
"I think it's also characteristic of the new [18-inch] tyres, they are quite weak on the combined braking [and steering], the front tyres especially.
"It was a good day for learning, and the main thing is we just need to fix all the issues we've been having now."
Viewed by others:
Confident but wary of issues ahead of first race
With the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix a matter of days away, Bottas is hopeful about the team's performance, but remains wary of any possible reliability issues.
"I'll be more confident once we speak with the team next week, and when I hear that all the issues we understand 100 percent and we make sure that they don't happen again," the Alfa Romeo driver said.
"Because at the moment now, my biggest concern is doing a race distance. We've had multiple different kind of issues during this test, but we've been able to fix them and we just hope there's no new issues coming up.
"Otherwise, in terms of performance, my feeling for now is that the team has made a clear step from last year. And that's nice to see. You know testing, we can't say in detail, but it's not far off where we should be."
F1 Podcast: All you need to know after the second pre-season test
At the end of the first pre-season test of 2022 in Barcelona,
Dieter Rencken and Thomas Maher discuss the on- and off-track
developments in Bahrain.