Brendon Hartley says Toro Rosso can revise its targets for the Formula 1 season opener in Australia after pre-season testing exceeded the team’s expectations.
The Honda-powered squad enjoyed a largely trouble-free winter, completing the third most laps of any team behind Mercedes and Ferrari across Barcelona pre-season testing.
Hartley completed Friday’s final day of running with the seventh-fastest time, although team-mate Pierre Gasly put Toro Rosso third on Thursday.
“The initial brief was that Melbourne might be tough, but actually after these test days we’ve exceeded our own expectations and we’re definitely in the fight for those points,” said Hartley.
“We think we’re somewhere in the fight. It’s a really tough midfield battle, but it was a really positive start.
“The goal has to be points. It would be crazy not saying that going to Melbourne.
“Haas, Renault, McLaren are all looking very strong as well. But we are in there somewhere.”
Asked if he felt the reliability of the Honda engines in testing meant the Japanese firm had silenced its doubters, Hartley replied: “I would have thought so.
“When I went to the factory a month ago, everyone was really optimistic and positive about this new partnership with Honda.
“I saw how hard everyone was working, so I had high expectations coming here and they’ve delivered. The partnership is off to a flying start.”