Stoffel Vandoorne sees no reason why McLaren's level of performance should not eventually be on a par with Red Bull Racing this season given the teams' common engine supplier.
McLaren's switch to Renault power this year provides the Woking-based outfit with a perfect benchmark against which it can measure itself in 2018.
Red Bull's credentials include three wins last year but also a fair amount of missed opportunities forced upon it by Renault's reliability issues, which the French manufacturer has worked diligently to solve over the winter.
Few are expecting McLaren to snap at Red Bull's heels at the outset, but over time, Vandoorne believes his team can challenge its Renault-powered rival.
"McLaren is a very good team and I see no reason why we wouldn't be able to perform just as well as Red Bull," he told Belgian daily La Dernière Heure.
"I sure hope that will be the case, but there are no guarantees.
"The atmosphere is excellent and there is a much more direct contact with the Renault people than there ever was with Honda. There are now far fewer problems that we have to deal with and therefore lose time and energy on," he added.
"We'll have a couple good benchmarks with Red Bull and Renault, two teams using the same engine as us. That's is something the team missed in the last three years."
"In principle we should do well, because our weakness is gone.
"But this is Formula 1 and only the stopwatch will tell. At least we will have the advantage that we can really test this time in Barcelona, in contrast to last year when we were constantly in the garage."
Vandoorne underlines the importance of accumulating mileage in pre-season testing in the next two weeks.
"In addition to learning about the car and working together, our goal is to get maximum mileage to amass data. We hope to total 500km a day."
"Our first impressions from the simulator are good, but we'll only get the real verdict on the race track. Like everyone else, I'm impatient to find out."