Multiple World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb has been hailed fast enough for Formula One by the Red Bull Racing team after the Frenchman tested one of their cars at Barcelona on Monday.
Loeb, 34, set the eighth fastest time of the day as F1 began preparing for the sweeping rule changes set to come in to force in the sport next season, and completed 82 trouble-free laps at the Spanish circuit.
"I expected to be pleasantly surprised and that was the case," Red Bull's race performance engineer Daniele Casanova told Autosport. "Sebastien has been really impressive. He has stepped into the car and not put a foot wrong from the beginning."
Loeb drove an interim RB4 chassis, with new slick Bridgestone tyres and simulated '09 levels of downforce. And while he was eighth quickest of 17 runners, the field was spread unusually wide due to the different configuration packages all the teams ran this week.
Nevertheless Casanova believes that Loeb's performance was of 'midfield' F1 pace.
"It's hard to the tell the exact pace," said Casanova. "From the fastest car to the slowest there is a 25km/h difference, so clearly a lot of people are running many different configurations, including KERS, wings and tyres.
"We are the correct weight, so at a guess I would say Sebastien is running somewhere in the midfield, which is mighty impressive.
"It's obviously fun to run a driver like Sebastien, but we also got a lot of useful work done. The new tyres are things that we have only tested two or three times before and they are really quite different. The idea is that this would be a normal test for us. So he was going at a good test pace, without taking any risks."
Despite proving that he has the speed, Loeb dismissed a switch to Formula One at this late stage in his career.
"Maybe I am too old," he told Autosport. "If I was going to do that, it's something that I should have thought about doing a few years ago. This only came about because it was an opportunity offered to me by Red Bull.
"You can't compare F1 to rallying, they are so different. It's not true that rallying is more of a comfort zone, because when I am flat-out on the stages I am concentrating just as hard as I was today."
The test was Loeb's second experience of F1, having tested a Renault R27 alongside Heikki Kovalainen at Paul Ricard last year - where he lapped 1.5s off the Finn's pace.
The Citroen WRC star added that he would love to drive an F1 car again and felt that there was more to come from him in terms of performance.
"I think there was more speed to come from me, but I am not going to say that I could have gone a second quicker or anything, because I wasn't," he said. "There were definitely areas where I could have improved though, particularly under braking.
"Sometimes I was braking too early and sometimes too late. I think it's the most difficult thing for anyone coming into F1 for the first time. For the rest [of the driving skills], it was not too bad. I studied some videos before, which helped with things like the racing line."