Max Verstappen believes Toro Rosso has the potential to make a one-second per lap leap forward in pace this year, despite its late-switch to Ferrari engines.
The Faenza-based team has been working flat out to get its STR11 ready for the start of the season after only concluding its move to 2015 Ferrari engines at the end of the campaign.
But, ahead of its crash test later this week, Verstappen has said there is optimism about the progress that has been made – and the scope for laptime improvement.
"It will be between eight tenths and a second, which is, of course, a lot", Verstappen told Dutch television show Peptalk.
However, Verstappen is well aware that Toro Rosso may face an uphill battle against other teams, who will benefit from development of their 2016 power units.
"The problem is that we have a 2015 engine and most teams will use a 2016 engine and they will be making some progress in this area, of course.
"Let's wait and see, but for us it looks positive anyway. I think we can make a bigger step than most teams."
The change of engine has contributed to the decision to lengthen the wheelbase of the STR11 compared to the STR10.
Such a difference may have an impact on performance, but Verstappen thinks he will notice very little from the cockpit.
"Overall I don't think a lot will change for me", he said. "They (the team) had already factored this in.
"I guess the car will be slightly more stable in the faster corners and slightly harder to turn in the tight corners. But overall it won't make much difference."
The appearance of the car will not change that much, according to Verstappen, although there is talk about the introduction of a Mercedes style short nose.
"Not a whole lot, because the regulations have not changed much," he said. "For us, the biggest change of course is the engine.
"The wings will look a little different and the nose a bit as well, but generally speaking you won't see big differences."