Fairuz Fauzy believes he could have reduced his times by a further two seconds had he managed one more run for Lotus in today's Barcelona test.
The Malaysian driver was slowest of all today, 6.6sec off the pace set by Mark Webber's Red Bull, but felt a late red flag had prevented him from showing just how much Lotus had improved during the session.
"I think I could do a 1m26sec here if I just had one more chance to drive again," said Fauzy. "There is more potential in the car, but a single change takes a lot of time in F1.
"There was a big chunk of time I found from 1m30sec to 1m28sec, and another two seconds is definitely possible. It is a shame really with that red flag at the end, because I could have gotten in the 1m27sec bracket."
He acknowledged that Lotus was still near the back of the pack, but thinks the team has already achieved a huge amount just to be ready to start the 2010 season.
"For sure, we are still lacking in downforce compared to the top teams, but the team at home is still improving the aero – so you need to be realistic," Fauzy said. "To be given the opportunity to design and build a car within five months, it is not easy. I think to build a car in five months, compared to the current teams, and be just six seconds back is a big achievement.
"Some of the teams have put a lot of money in. We started with a good [design] and we have built up, but we are still new. Where we are now is a good achievement considering we have not been to the first race weekend yet. I am sure [the gap] will drop to four seconds, three seconds and then to two seconds. You never know, so we will see how it goes."
Fauzy added that Lotus was also in better shape than other new teams, with Campos yet to test and US F1's chances of making the grid unclear. Although Virgin was ready to test a week earlier than Lotus and has been faster so far, various issues mean Virgin has completed less mileage than its fellow newcomer.
"Some of the new teams are still missing, and they will be struggling as well, so maybe we are lucky to have been given the chance to prepare over five months," said Fauzy. "Hopefully, if we can finish in the 1m24sec for this test, I think that will be a really, really good achievement for us. We need to be realistic – if we are two or three seconds off the fastest, then that is a good achievement for us.
"It is not first, but the aero will help – and the upgrades through the season, they for sure will help."
Full Q&A with Fairuz Fauzy