While he won't predict where his Toro Rosso team will slot into F1's pecking order for the 2016 world championship season, Franz Tost appears quietly confident of another strong showing.
Already armed with two of the sport's best young talents inn Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso's return to Ferrari power - albeit with a year-old version of the Scuderia's V6 turbo - and what appears to be a compliant chassis led to a successful pre-season test and sanguinity for the year ahead.
"It's difficult to estimate [our place in the pecking order] even though it is the last test day, because you never know how much fuel the others have in the car," Tost said as pre-season preparations wound down in Barcelona, "Generally speaking, I think that both cars are in Q3 because I am quite optimistic regarding our performance.
"The car, so far, has behaved quite good and also, from the reliability point of view, we have never been at such a high level because we have really finished a lot of laps. We know the car because we got the possibility to do so many laps and, therefore, I think we have all the data, all the knowledge, to see hopefully that we [are competitive] with both cars."
With the switch from Renault power to Ferrari taking up a lot of time over the winter, STR arrived at the first Barcelona test unsure of what to expect, but Tost has been impressed with what the team has turned out, especially that the STR11 has proven reliable.
"It was a positive surprise, yes, because we didn't expect that we could do so many laps after the last two or three months because we worked [every] 24 hours to finish the car in time," he noted, "The first time I saw our gearbox, and how it is fitted into the car, I said 'Jesus Christ, how can we check the reliability because you don't see any more all the cables, all the tubes, all the lines because everything is covered… Fortunately it works so far, but now we have to prove it in the races. For now, from the reliability side, I am quite happy..."
While Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has already suggested that Toro Rosso might find itself ahead in the family fight, at least early in the season, Tost reckons the midfield battle will be more wide-ranging.
"Our direct competitors are Force India, of course Sauber, Red Bull Racing, McLaren...," he mused, "Those I would expect in the first half of the season, and then we will see..."