While Lewis Hamilton was second quickest in the morning, just 0.088s off Max Verstappen's pace, and fourth in the afternoon, 0.579s of the Dutchman's best, the fact is that in neither session did the Briton or his teammate run the hypersoft tyres, unlike their rivals.
"I would say that Mercedes' pace was really fast today, even on the harder tyre, they were still doing pretty good lap times," he told reporters.
"I think they'll be at this stage hard to beat," he admitted, "but I think we can still improve the car a lot, do more laps, learn a bit more and I think we'll be okay.
While an issue during the second session was initially thought to be MGU-K related, many still fearing that the Australian is on the verge of a grid penalty following the Monaco failure, it turned out to be an electrical issue related to the Renault engine update.
"We had what looked like an electrical problem," he confirmed. "We had some problems this morning, they tried to fix it during lunch, but it didn't improve, so yeah, we had to try and fix that.
"We have the B-spec engine this weekend, the upgrade, and I think just configuring a few things on that, we're not necessarily aligned, so we just had to go through a little bit of trial and error. A little bit obviously frustrating not to get many laps, but the problem doesn't seem dramatic."
Late in making his qualifying sims, the Australian was hampered by traffic but eventually managed to post a best time just 0.405s off his teammate's pace and good enough for third.