Casey Stoner says he will "keep his feet on the ground" over Honda's superb testing form as he reckons it will be several races into the MotoGP season before the balance of power becomes clear.
Honda was quickest in every single preseason test, but Stoner is not certain that the winter results give an accurate indication of form.
"At the moment, everything's going very well, but testing and racing are two different things and it's a long season ahead of us," he said. "Things can start well, and have done for us in the past, but we're keeping our feet on the ground and doing everything possible."
The Australian thinks his own pace in Qatar, where he has won three times, might flatter his bike.
"For me, the second race is more important than the first," said Stoner. "Everything has always gone quite well for me at this circuit. Sepang was a much better idea of what level we're at than this track. But it's once we get to the European circuits that we're going to understand everything. We're just going to have to wait for that early/mid part of the season to really see where everyone's level is."
Stoner added that he expects to see several new names at the head of the field this year – though he would not be drawn on who he is tipping for an underdog surprise.
"For me, people are putting themselves on the line a little bit more than in the past, and we're seeing lap times out of riders that to be honest I didn't expect," he said. "But everybody seems to be not just able to do those one laps, they seem very consistent with the laps they're doing, and that's the biggest surprise.
"I think there are some riders who are going to be up there who at Christmas I wouldn't have expected, but watching them progress they seem to be staying consistently toward the front and mixing it up. So I don't know really what to expect of this season."