DANIEL Ricciardo heads into qualifying tomorrow in a confident mood.

The Enstone-based Renault team showed strong pace in this morning's practice sessions at the Chinese Grand Prix.

Sunday marks the 1,000th Formula 1 race and Ricciardo, who failed to score a point in the opening two rounds, is feeling upbeat.

The Australian, sporting a similar helmet to compatriot and three-time champion Jack Brabham as part of the anniversary, was sixth and ninth fastest in practice.

Teammate Nico Hulkenberg also showed strong pace in the second session, finishing fifth.

Ricciardo said: “It wasn’t a bad day for us, if a little bit mixed. I felt we were closer to what we wanted in the morning, so we have a few things to work on and figure out.

“Our short run pace looks like it belongs inside the top ten, so it will be about piecing everything together and extracting some good one-lap pace.”

The Banbury-prepared Haas team endured a mixed day, with Romain Grosjean tenth and Kevin Magnussen 11th in the first session, before they slipped back to 17th and 16th respectively in the afternoon.

Grove-based Williams were at the back of the grid, with Robert Kubica 18th and 19th, while George Russell was 19th and 20th.

Meanwhile, Sean Walkinshaw will race in the Autobacs Super GT Championship for a third season.

The 25-year-old, from Chipping Norton, has signed for the Panther ARTO Team Thailand to drive the new Lexus RC-F GT3.