Lotus boss Eric Boullier believes his team will deliver a much stronger Formula 1 campaign in 2013, even if it starts the season with a car that is only as quick as last year's.
The Frenchman is convinced that the progress that his drivers have made, allied to a better technical understanding among the engineers, means the team can move forward even without technical gains.
"I would be very happy to start the season with the same car performance we had last year relative to everyone else," Boullier said. "I know both our drivers will be race fit and, let's say, delivering more than 12 months ago.
"On the team front, last year we lost a little bit of ground during the summer, but we know where and we know why it happened. We learned from our mistake and we will not do the same strategy with next year's car development. At the same time, we performed well at the end of this season, and found some of our performance back, so it was a good fight until the end. It was good to see we were capable of delivering as much as the bigger teams.
"So I am positive, but also cautious. You don't know what the others teams are delivering, as you can only guess from statistics. But the regulations are quite stable, so there will only be evolutions of the 2012 cars. That could be good for us to help us keep the ground."
Boullier says that one of the key issues for his squad will be in dealing with the tricky balance of resources between developing next year's car and sorting out the design of the 2014 challenger.
"We obviously don't want to push too far to hurt ourselves with the big project for 2014," he said. "But the boys have managed some work already on 2014, and I hope that what we saved already from 2012 has given us more flexibility for 2013."
When asked how he would cope if the team emerged as a title contender in 2013 and needed to push on with developing its E21, Boullier said: "To be honest, it will be a nice problem to have - even though complicated to manage.
"But we have to be realistic. This is the end of a chapter of rules, and in 2014 there will be a new chapter. We cannot afford to start far from the others with these new regulations."