Lotus 'still in learning stage'
New Lotus deputy principal Federico Gastaldi admits the team is still a long way behind its rivals, but is adamant it will be in a position to close the gap when F1 returns to Europe in May.
Both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado endured a frustrating opening weekend as it became clear how much work Lotus needs to do to be a competitive outfit in 2014. Gastaldi, who became Gerard Lopez's deputy at the start of the weekend in Melbourne, is braced for more of the same in Malaysia as the team makes up for time lost over the winter testing period.
"[The aim is] to keep learning," Gastaldi told the official Formula One website when asked about the race in Sepang. "I would be dancing faster than the music if I said something different! We need to keep learning and if everything goes as we anticipate, in collaboration with Renault Sport F1, then we will be in a position to continue progressing for Bahrain and when the championship comes back to Europe in May. Following the race on Sunday it felt like we'd completed our first real test as the two weeks in Bahrain were a very frustrating experience for everyone. The Melbourne race was the first time we managed to run some consistent laps with both cars, because the free practice sessions were so difficult."
Despite the team's start to the season, Gastaldi is a firm believer in the potential of the Lotus E22 and insists he has full faith in Renault to rectify the problems which have hampered its teams so far.
"I'd say wait and see what we can really achieve with the E22. If you look at it logically, Renault Sport F1 are the reigning world championship winning engine partner, so how is it possible to go from there to nothing? They will deliver the right package to all of us which will enable Lotus F1 Team to be at the front once again. We're a smaller team - we're not Mercedes or Ferrari or McLaren, but we have enormous pure racing spirit. This team has been around a long time and we have people here from the glory days, who have passed on the philosophy and ethos of the team's renowned spirit and passion. We are ready to fight!"