Michael Schumacher has admitted he is still struggling to readjust on his return to F1 - but says that time is still on his side in his quest to catch up.
The former World Champion has so far been outpaced in every timed session in Bahrain by his team-mate Nico Rosberg and will start Sunday's grand prix two places behind his compatriot in seventh position.
"It's a little bit different for me," Schumacher told the BBC. "The time I had available to get onto the peak of what the car can do was not very big, but we are working well together and the season is a long one."
"I'm not yet finding the best in myself or the car in a one-lap qualifying situation," he continued. "I'm not getting into the rhythm and fine-tuning necessary. The handling of the car as it is at the moment does not suit my driving style and that's something we need to develop. How quickly we can do this will determine how quickly I can improve."
However, there's a widespread expectation that, although he is struggling relative to Rosberg on his single-lap runs, Schumacher will prove to be far more competitive on longer stints in full race trim. Nor has the old boy lost his competitive spirit: whilst the rest of the top-ten qualifiers were queuing up to be weighed, Schumacher was spotted taking a close-up look at his rivals' cars as they sat outside parc ferme [pictured].
Although he finished ahead of his illustrious team-mate, Rosberg also endured a frustrating qualifying. Having impressed on Friday, the youngster was tipped to challenge for pole position but ended up in just fifth.
"I was hoping for pole, I was convinced I could do that, but it was so difficult out there with the tyres," he reflected. "One mistake and your tyres were gone."