Jenson Button says his record-breaking performance in Barcelona means BAR are on course to challenge F1's elite.
The 24-year-old Briton broke the lap record for the revised Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday, putting Michael Schumacher's return in the shade.
Button's BAR team admitted he had been on a low fuel load but the Briton was encouraged by the pre-season test.
"It has put a smile on everyone's face, which is very important in the build-up to the season," he said.
Button, who is hoping for his first podium finish this year, added: "Obviously, it's a great feeling to have broken the lap record, especially with so many of the top teams here.
"Over the last few tests, we have really been concentrating on testing the car for reliability, and this was the first time we had tried to do a reasonable lap.
"Because of that, we are extremely encouraged with the time, as the data seems to tell us we are heading in the right direction - although we won't really know until Melbourne.
The new season begin in Australia on 7 March.