Takuma Sato says that getting a 2009 Toro Rosso seat would be a dream come true, after out-pacing the other candidates for the drive in this week's Barcelona testing shoot-out.
The former Honda and Super Aguri driver was fastest of all on Monday, then second behind Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel yesterday.
Sato, 2008 STR driver Sebastien Bourdais, and Red Bull protege Sebastien Buemi are all in contention for Toro Rosso seats next year.
Having spent recent seasons attempting to achieve giant-killing performances for the now defunct Super Aguri team, Sato said he would relish the opportunity to join the race-winning Scuderia Toro Rosso.
"In the last two and a half years with Super Aguri there were special memories, but purely from the driver's point of view, I always wanted to have a competitive package," he said.
"Now we have some chances. With this environment, with such a great atmosphere in this team, it would be such a dream to race with them in 2009.
"No doubt about it, this is one of the fastest Formula One cars I've ever driven, but I have to respect all the manufacturers so I cannot do a direct comparison."
Sato said that both the car's competitiveness and the atmosphere within Toro Rosso made the team a very tempting destination.
"Obviously I really enjoyed driving the car, and I really enjoyed working with this team," he said.
"It was already a great pleasure and very interesting to work with all the engineers and the team back in September's test in Jerez. But of course that was cut quite short by rain, and I've got another opportunity for one and a half days working with this team, and it was really absolutely enjoyable."
Amid suggestions that Toro Rosso would require their drivers to bring budgets next season, Sato admitted that he was keen to find personal sponsors.
"I really don't have cash," he said. "But of course I'd be very happy to bring a personal sponsor because if you add to the team's budget it will make the team stronger. But not so much to buy yourself the seat, that's obviously the second story.
"Of course we're negotiating all the possibilities to have personal sponsors, but I really don't know. I'm here to drive, and from a driver's point of view just to do the best in the cockpit."
Despite lapping faster than the other Toro Rosso contenders at the test, Sato was unwilling to speculate about his chances of securing a 2009 deal.
"I really don't know," he said. "To answer the question is impossible for me. I've done everything I could in the cockpit and in the discussions with the engineers, but unfortunately this is not something that I can just decide, so I have to wait and see how the team decide."