Hockenheim: McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were optimistic they could challenge the leaders in Sunday's German Grand Prix despite more tyre-related frustration in qualifying.
Despite car upgrades, the pair struggled in the wet conditions that have plagued their performances in qualifying for two Grands Prix in a row now, at Silverstone in Britain and Hockenheim.
If the forecast dry weather turns out correct on Sunday, they said they could be in with a shout.
"It does feel that it's a good improvement," Button told reporters after finishing seventh in qualifying, with Ferrari's championship leader Fernando Alonso on pole.
"I think we should be happy with the progress we have made with the new package. For tyre degradation and outright pace we're strong but as soon as it started raining we knew we were going to struggle."
Button said he was quite impressed to be so far up the grid in the circumstances, even if it had been a frustrating afternoon.
"When the tyres are working, it is good but we feel we're on a knife edge and it's difficult for us to understand," he explained.
"The car is very strong in the dry and I think we can race well, we have to solve our issues of getting our tyres working."
Hamilton, who was eighth, said: "It was like driving on ice for us.
"We're disappointed with the end result but we're looking good in the dry, it was looking okay through the first two sessions," said the 2008 champion. "I don't know how everyone went that much quicker than us at the end."