Honda Racing team boss Nick Fry believes that Rubens Barrichello will be a 'different' driver this year from the one who was overshadowed by Jenson Button last season.
With the Brazilian now more familiar with the workings at Honda, and feeling comfortable with the new Bridgestone tyres, Fry claims that Barrichello is fully fired up ahead of the 2007 campaign.
"I think this year we'll see a different Rubens, very much so," said Fry in an interview with autosport.com. "Over the winter period he's lost over five kilos in weight, he's very, very motivated, (and) he's thoroughly enjoyed driving on the Bridgestones.
"I think you're going to see a different person, and he'll give Jenson a run for his money."
Fry believes that Barrichello's form last year was hindered by him not feeling comfortable with Honda Racing's traction control and braking systems - areas he has tweaked for this year.
"I don't see much difference in the absolute speed of any of the F1 drivers," continued Fry. "They can all drive very fast. The issue for me is how many laps can they drive fast for?
"The difference between the guys at the front of the grid and the guys towards the back is that in a 50-lap race a few of them drive absolutely to perfection for 50 laps, others can do it for 40 laps, others for 30 laps and others for 20. That's the difference, not speed.
"I think Rubens' absolute speed is not to be questioned, and we saw that lots of times last year. It was just more a case of him getting used to the car, so you can drive it under lots of conditions.
"Certainly with the traction control, early in the year it wasn't to his liking at all. Jenson had just got the experience and the driving style to be able to drive around some of the problems.
"I think Rubens has been good for us in that he's insisted quite rightly that those things had to be fixed, and he was able to say I know it can be done better because I had that at Ferrari."
Honda will unveil their new 2007 'eco' livery in a launch at London's Natural History Museum on February 26, with Fry refusing to reveal too many details in advance.
"It's been fixed in terms of concept since Imola last year," he said. "The green theme is loosely what we're going for, but all will be revealed on February 26! Wait and see what's going to happen. It is a different approach."
There are suggestions that the car will feature images from Google Earth and boast a number of environmentally friendly sponsors.