Sebastien Buemi is confident that the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR5 will be competitive this season after testing the car for two days at Valencia.
The Swiss ran on Monday and Tuesday and, despite losing significant track time on the opening day with a gearbox actuator problem, is pleased with the new car.
"We are quite confident," said Buemi after his two days in the car. "We don't know what the other guys are driving but from what we can think, we are not in bad shape. It's a bit early to make any conclusions, but it has been positive for us. On Tuesday we did 105 laps and collected a lot of data to analyze."
Despite a strong initial impression, Buemi does not believe that the true competitive order will become clear until the final preseason test at Barcelona at the end of February is complete.
"We still have to wait and see what we can achieve," said Buemi. "It's very difficult to know where you are because you can be quick but still three seconds off the pace depending on what fuel you have in the car. We will do the best job possible and will see at the end of the Barcelona test whether it is quick or not."
Buemi admitted that developing the car will be a big challenge this season now that customer cars are banned, meaning that all development must now be done in-house without support from Red Bull Technology. Toro Rosso has recruited around 50 additional personnel this season to become a full constructor, with ex-Red Bull man Ben Butler as chief designer.
"It's a good motivation for the whole team because we are doing everything on or own and can do it how we want," said Buemi. "But on the other side it is maybe a bit more difficult because we don't have Adrian Newey working for us! We just have to concentrate and go step by step. Because we don't have so many people in the wind tunnel, development is going to be slower."
Jaime Alguersuari is testing the car today, and has got Toro Rosso to 1.106sec off pace-setting team Ferrari.