Daniel Ricciardo is hoping the tight battle brewing for Formula 1's midfield honors will play into the hands of Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2012.
The Australian drove the STR7 for the first time this week on Saturday, completing a full program of more than 130 laps in Catalunya testing. His running included super-soft tire qualifying simulations, a full race distance, and even running of both of Pirelli's wet tires, and he ended the day third fastest.
With both Williams and Force India making comparable long runs on Saturday afternoon, Ricciardo believes the closeness of the midfield teams will give Toro Rosso the opportunity to fight for points this season.
"I'm hoping it's going to be very tight," he said. "That will give us more opportunities to make positions. The top teams, the top two teams, will still have an advantage, from what I understand. But I think the midfield does look much tighter this year. Every last bit of perfection is going to be needed to make that position."
Ricciardo also praised the Toro Rosso team for completing what he described as an optimistic Saturday program.
"We had a great day," he added. "We did 131 laps, which was really good. It's not all the time you set a program that big, and then complete it. To complete a very optimistic program was very good. We got some different weather too, so we tried a few different compounds, and I was happy with the performance of the car.
"We had some long runs [in the] afternoon which made me adapt better and get a better feeling for [the tires]. I'm learning, but I'm learning fast, which is good. We're understanding it all pretty well."