Carlos Sainz led the midfield charge in Friday's FP2 session, but the Ferrari driver is nevertheless erring "on the cautious side", aware that his main rivals usually make greater strides on Saturday.
Sainz clocked in fourth at the end of the afternoon session just 0.36s adrift from pacesetter Lewis Hamilton and 0.163s ahead of Scuderia teammate Charles Leclerc.
But just over half a second separated the top-seven runners in Friday's afternoon session, a tight spread that foretells an equally close battle for position behind F1's Mercedes and Red Bull leaders.
Nevertheless, Sainz was happy with his day of work and, contrary to some of his rivals, pleased to deal with Portimão's typically low-grip conditions.
"Very positive day for me," Sainz said. "We keep the learning curve, we keep the different track conditions today and probably the lowest grip of the season so far - Bahrain and particularly Imola was really high grip, today was really slippery - and it’s another experience in the bag just to see how the Ferrari feels in very low grip conditions, very gusty.
"And just going through my processes and having a decent day.
"I do like low grip conditions," Sainz added. "It’s always something that I guess is in my nature and I do like the hassle of having to find grip in places where there is not.
"But at the same time, you know, we saw in Imola, that on Friday we tend to be a bit stronger than maybe on Saturday, Sundays.
"Is that because of fuel, or engine, I’m not sure, then we see other teams taking bigger steps on Saturday so I’m going to keep it on the cautious side and see how it goes tomorrow."
Leclerc described Friday's conditions as "tricky" but admitted having fun, although he also confessed that he needed to improve his pace on long runs.
"Very very tricky to drive the car, but I’m having fun in those conditions," Leclerc explained.
"It was very tricky, maybe too tricky in FP2 to have fun with the wind especially there were quite a lot of gusts everywhere on track, so difficult to stay on track, but apart from that it’s been a good day.
"We’ve done all the programme that we wanted to do and it looks like we are quite competitive for now, so we need to keep pushing.
"Short runs were positive today; long runs looked quite good too. A bit less on my side, so I need to work a little bit on that.
"I think this is the main weakness for me today, but it looked good on the other car with Carlos so I just need to fix it a little bit and it should be better tomorrow."