New Zealand motor-racing ace Mitch Evans is placing realistic goals on his young shoulders as he steps up to GP2 this week.
Having claimed the GP3 title last year, the 18-year-old slips into a far more demanding job with Arden International this year, starting at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia on Friday.
Everything is on a much bigger scale - a significantly more powerful car, 12 meetings compared to eight last year, and hour-long and 45-minute races compared to the two half-hour sprints he contested last year.
On top of that, the competition is much tougher, operating just one level below Formula One and sharing their stages as curtainraisers on the glamour weekends in Asia and Europe.
Evans was on the pace during testing in Spain, being the fastest rookie and pushing into the top 10 lap times. Now he has to transfer that into the real thing.
"The first goal is to get into the points. That's always a good thing to achieve when you head into a new class. If I manage to get into the points in Malaysia, I'd give myself a pat on the back," Evans said as he headed to Melbourne this weekend to watch the F1 season-opener before going to Kuala Lumpur.
Points are allocated to the top 10 in race one and the top eight in race two at each meeting.
Evans could then target a progression towards pole positions, podiums and ultimately race wins as the season unfolds.
"But anything can happen in my sport and I don't want to pin any expectations on myself this early."
He had emphasised that point to his new bosses.
"Arden seem pretty happy with how things have been going. I've tried to keep everyone's expectations down because I've got no idea how I'm going to go. I don't want to disappoint anyone and they understand that."
Evans said the testing programme had been demanding, physically and mentally.
"But I'm really happy with where I'm at. I'm more than comfortable in the car. I feel I've got up to speed with it now. It's a totally different beast to what I have known.
"There is so much more to think about with these cars compared to the GP3 or anything I've driven before. Getting the hang of that has been a big thing."
Evans said his training in New Zealand over the Christmas break had set him up well.
"The car is a lot more physical to drive. There's no power steering and they produce a lot of down-force. Your body gets pretty beaten up. But my training seems to have paid off so far. I'm not worried about that side of things."
Evans faces four new tracks this year, starting with Sepang. He has been putting in the hours in the simulator at Arden HQ in Britain and doing video research, although he realises nothing will prepare him for the heat.
"I know all the lines and stuff. It's just a matter of getting there and learning it as quickly as possible when you are in the cockpit.
"It's really brutal conditions and long laps (5.543km). But it's a good classic track . . . I'm looking forward to it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Bikers and drivers - pull yourselves together