'We can find big chunks of time' - Lotus
Lotus believes its car still has the potential to be "very strong" this year, but admits it is unlikely to reach a competitive level of performance before the Spanish Grand Prix.
Following a pre-season riddled with issues, Lotus emerged at the opening grand prix of the season unprepared and both cars failed to finish in Australia. The E22 was also off the pace in qualifying, but technical director Nick Chester believes it is capable of bouncing back once the car's main issues are resolved.
"From what we have seen on the chassis in terms of measurements, particularly on the aero side, it still looks very strong. There is nothing fundamental on the car that will stop it being competitive but we need to get to a sufficient level of mapping and operating the car so that the drivers can extract the maximum from the E22. There are clear, identifiable areas where we can find big chunks of time. Once we have more mileage under our belt and worked on the balance of the car then the drivers will feel more comfortable and we will make good progress."
However, Chester admits Lotus is unlikely to be fighting at full strength until the start of the European season in Spain.
"It is difficult to make a strong prediction after the weekend we have just had in Australia, especially with the limited mileage under our belt. I'm certainly hoping for an improvement for Malaysia and then some more in Bahrain, although as they are back to back it is likely to be small steps. It may well be Barcelona before we are in a more stable position and compete at the level we want to be at. One thing's for certain, we're not sitting back; we're pushing all the way with the focus on extracting the maximum from the E22."
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