Kamui Kobayashi believes that the new Sauber C31 has already proven itself to be faster than last year's machine.
The Japanese was seventh fastest on the opening day of the Jerez test yesterday. Although his fastest time of 1m21.353s was around three-quarters of a second off his best Jerez lap from last year, he has no doubts that the car will be able to lap faster than that once it is set up.
"Performance-wise, this year is much quicker," said Kobayashi. "This is Formula 1 where always the rules try to reduce the speed but the lap times get quicker.
"I looked at last year's test times and it [our pace] was off, but the track here is still dirty and my car is still not set up. It [the feel of the car] is pretty similar to last year and the lap time is a lot better."
Kobayashi was also encouraged by the reliability of the new Sauber.
He completed 106 laps on the opening day of testing, more than any other driver, with the only stoppage caused by the team completing an out-of-fuel test run.
"The good thing is that we did over 100 laps, which is pretty good for the first day," said Kobayashi. "It's very important to get some laps in this car and we had the chance to test some items. The target was not performance as we will see about that later, but it was good to start like this. The first impression of the car is quite smooth.
"We have a few things to do with a couple of parts but it's going to take a few more days to judge. But for a first day I'm very happy as we do not even have a baseline setup yet."