French driver Romain Grosjean, who was regularly challenging for
podium places last year, accepted the first few races would be hard
but was optimistic the team would make up lost ground.
"We're not in a nice situation but it doesn't mean that it's game
over," he said in a team preview for the race in Melbourne.
"For us, the weekend will be maximizing the time on track, aiming to
finish the race and getting the best result possible," added
Grosjean, who has a new team mate in Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado.
Lotus finished fourth overall last season and won in Australia with
Kimi Raikkonen, who has since departed for Ferrari.
The British-based team struggled financially towards the end of last
year and missed the first test of the season because their car was
not ready in time.
When they did turn up for the second and third tests in Bahrain,
problems with the new Renault V6 power unit meant they got in far
fewer laps than all the other teams in sessions dominated by
Lotus have also lost principal Eric Boullier to McLaren, with
chairman Gerard Lopez taking over the role.
"There is a degree of frustration coming away from winter testing,"
said technical director Nick Chester.
"As was evident in Bahrain, we have much more work to do with the
power unit itself to ensure that it is working correctly with the
[to top of second column]
"To be blunt, we are starting further back than we would like to
be. I think that the first two races of this season will be very
challenging for us; however, it also depends on the solutions that
Renault Sport F1 will be able to bring to the table too," said
Despite that, he was also optimistic that the E22 car, which tested
with a distinctive split nose, would in time become "a very strong
Chester said solution to the problems encountered so far looked
"fairly obvious", which should allow the team to make reasonably
quick progress with improving reliability, although that could be a
"Because of the low mileage runs thus far, the reality is that there
might be issues that we have yet to discover, and which might crop
up further down the line and compromise reliability in the first few
races," he warned.
"Our target is to finish the race. As we have done so little mileage,
it is difficult to estimate where we will be at in terms of
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; editing by Justin Palmer)
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