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In MotoGP It is not possible to say that rider "X" is faster than rider "Y"- it is only possible to say that Rider "A" was timed faster than rider "B" on the day, and under the day's circumstances.
Nor is it accurate to say that anyone is riding the same bike as it was in previous years. There is constant development of the top bikes, and for riders who can feel the effect of miniscule adjustments this years bike is altogether different from any previous incarnation.
When the chequered flag falls at the first race the reality will be clear.
Until then, VR46 is just saying he is happy with his performance. Even if it is just hype no-one can contradict how he feels, because only he knows truly how he feels.