Jarno Trulli believes his Toyota team are ready to take the fight to pre-season favourites Ferrari and BMW Sauber, after another encouraging run at Barcelona in Spain this week
With the TF109 having shone since it first hit the track in early January, Trulli thinks the pace of development by Toyota leaves them on course to start the season fighting with the top teams.
When asked if he believed that the impressive long-run pace of Toyota had left him convinced he could run with Ferrari and BMW-Sauber, Trulli said: "Certainly yes, we can be there with them. Our aim is to be in the top three or four at the beginning of the season and see what we can do there."
Trulli says he has no doubts that the car Toyota have produced for 2009 is one of the most competitive he has experienced.
"We are definitely optimistic, but nevertheless only the race results will tell us the truth," he said. "All in all, this is so far one of the best cars that Toyota have so far made, so I am confident we will be right at the top with the others."
Trulli concedes, however, that the closeness of testing does make it difficult to firm up predictions prior to Melbourne.
"Well, it is difficult to get a clear idea," he said. "Ferrari are looking pretty competitive, BMW are looking competitive, and we are looking competitive. Renault are not bad as well.
"Today I was impressed by the Brawn which was straight away looking well, which is positive for F1, everybody, and I am happy for the team and everyone there as they have had such a difficult time.
"The Red Bull is looking good, the car looks good, but only the race results will tell us the truth. This will happen in Australia."
When asked for his feelings on McLaren, who have yet to make a big impression in testing, Trulli said: "The McLaren doesn't look particularly quick at the moment, but we have to admit that they are a very experienced team who can bounce back at any time.
"So as soon as they understand what is wrong, what is right, and which direction they can take, I am sure they will be back."
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