Toro Rosso and its Team Principal Franz Tost are preparing for a tough and fiercely competitive duel among the midfield teams in 2017, even though the Italian squad had initially hoped to be firmly leading them.
Speaking to the official F1 website, Tost said: "The midfield is very, very tight and all teams in that segment are super competitive: Williams, Force India, Toro Rosso, Haas and Renault. These five teams will fight it out for P4 in the Constructors' Championship. So at best you will end up fourth - and in the worst-case scenario, P8."
After a good start to the season for Toro Rosso, Tost was hopeful that it could remain fourth in the standings after the second round in China - but the team was unable to stay there: "To be honest, I thought that we would also hold that position after the Bahrain race," Tost continued.
"We have a competitive car. We also showed that in Bahrain, where I thought that we would get both cars in the points - but for various reasons it did not happen."
The team's STR12 car uses a Renault engine, as does the RB13 of its sister team Red Bull Racing, and this has so far been perceived as its weakest area - although it does highlight that Toro Rosso has developed a good chassis.
"We are behind Red Bull, but of course they have a different objective," said Tost. "And they have a different infrastructure than we have. Our target is not the top three - so Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes are fighting in a different league. But, yes, we do have a real good car! Renault has built a completely new engine for this season - and the pace is very good. Of course with all new things you might have some teething issues."
"I am optimistic that Renault will to a large extent already close the gap this season and I am very optimistic for next year. Now what is needed is time to eliminate any teething problems - and mileage."