Jarno Trulli is hopeful his Toyota team will be able to fight behind Ferrari and McLaren after having found a lot more performance in the new TF108.
Although the Japanese squad have not shone during winter testing, the introduction of new aerodynamic components has left Trulli upbeat about the team's chances for the 2008 season.
The Italian still reckons, however, that Ferrari and McLaren are ahead, but he believes Toyota will be able to fight for third place with BMW and Renault.
"I don't know how the others are doing, but it seems to me the Ferrari is really quick," Trulli told autosport.com at Barcelona. "Some have said the championship is already over.
"The season is long, but if a team like Ferrari start this well it won't be easy to make up the lost ground.
"So we'll see what the Ferrari will be like here, with their new aerodynamic configuration. Then at Melbourne we'll have a better idea of what the season is going to be like.
"But I expect Ferrari and McLaren in front, and behind them I hope there can be Toyota too, along with Renault and BMW. I want to believe in it.
"I think the Ferrari can be around half a second faster than the McLaren, with the others behind. This is just my opinion, it's not based on real data.
"I think we can do better than last year, which wasn't good for us. First of all let's start over again in a better direction. With a potential like Toyota's great things can be done. We need to believe in it and maybe it'll take time."
Toyota scored just 13 points last year and are hoping for much better things with the TF108, which is a departure from previous cars.
Trulli admits he is much more optimistic for this year after having worked with the car during the winter.
"I'm happy because the car compared to last year is definitely better," he added. "I'm much more confident: in Bahrain we went rather well, also because we were up against Ferrari, and in my opinion they go really really quick.
"We aren't close but in my opinion we can do well, we can be up there in the top six or seven, I hope. Next week we'll understand where we are and what we can do this year.
"I'm confident, the team have worked well and the car, as I said in Jerez, is a totally new car and several problems we had last year have been solved. There's more stability, it's easier to work. There are other problems but they can be solved little by little. The basis is definitely better. Now we'll have to carry on developing it throughout the year.
"The car is overall better, while the balance still needs to be defined because we've done proper running only in Bahrain. In Jerez and Valencia we most of all tried to understand the high and low points of the car in general.
"I have to say I'm doing really well over the long distance, with a very quick race pace. Over the single lap there are some difficulties."