Despite the apparent difference between their respective power units, and comparative performances in pre-season testing, Franz Tost remains reluctant to believe that his Toro Rosso team can come in ahead of sister squad Red Bull Racing in this year's F1 pecking order.
Toro Rosso has swapped the disappointing Renault V6 for Ferrari power this season, while RBR remains with the French unit, albeit now badged for TAG-Heuer as it works on its own development programme. Adjusted times for the eight days of testing in Barcelona put the Italian team right with its rival on the performance charts and, with Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz ready to build on a successful debut season, many believe that an upset could be on the cards, particularly as the reliability of its 2015-spec Ferrari engines play a part in the early rounds.
Tost, however, remains unconvinced, well aware of the capabilities of Christian Horner's squad and the potential of its own driving line-up.
"Red Bull Racing, to me, is still one of the best teams in the pit-lane and, if they were to have a really good, powerful, engine, they would fight for the championship," he asserted, "The team is, from an engineering point of view, on the highest level and, while I don't know their progress during the winter months, I can only say that RBR is one of the strongest teams and, if the power unit works, then I don't expect Toro Rosso can be in front of them."
Despite his obvious pessimism, Tost is looking forward to going into the year with an unchanged driver pairing, particularly as both Verstappen and Sainz showed no signs of holding back in testing.
"I am very optimistic with both of the drivers because, up to now, [they] have done a fantastic job," he noted, "There was no spin, no crash, and they always were fast. They're not rolling around, they're really driving the car on the limit and I'm more than happy with [them]."
Toro Rosso finished seventh in last year's F1 constructors' standings, three places behind Red Bull, and should also find itself fighting with the likes of Force India, Sauber and the recovering pairing of Renault and McLaren in what promises to be a closely-matched midfield this season.