Daniil Kvyat is in a confident mood going into his maiden Formula One race after Toro Rosso made some drastic improvements over the last couple of days of pre-season testing.
Both Toro Rosso drivers struggled with reliability for the majority of winter testing, but towards the end of last week's final test in Bahrain, Kvyat and his team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne appeared to make some progress, finishing tied for seventh with McLaren on the amount of laps recorded at Sakhir.
The Russian rookie went into the third and final test with having just completed 71 laps over the first eight days of testing, but logged 136 laps over the last two days in Bahrain.
During an exclusive interview with Autosport, the GP3 champion Kvyat said that the large number of laps he completed in Bahrain was "very important" for his prospects in Australia in two weeks' time.
"It's a big relief for me, definitely a big step forward," the Russian youngster told Autosport.
"We managed to do a good amount of laps, with positive signs so it definitely gives us some confidence.
"We're still in the catch-up phase and usually that means a lot of hard work unless our rivals make a huge mistake, which doesn't look like being the case."
The 19-year-old Kvyat added that he was able to starting pushing the Toro Rosso to its limits in Bahrain once the car showed that it was able to run reliably.
"When we didn't have so many reliability problems we did some important tests on the chassis side," he continued.
"As soon as we saw the car was running nicely we had to get something done.
"We had to work on a double programme to make some steps forward in all directions, and that helped me get some confidence.
"We're in the phase of learning, the phase of improving, and we have to improve our performance faster than everybody else."
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