Team Lotus will be a regular midfield runner in next year's Formula 1 World Championship, believes its chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne.
The British-based squad has established itself ahead of fellow 2010 newcomers Marussia Virgin and Hispania on a regular basis this year, but has yet to score a point and is consistently still over half a second behind the likes of Toro Rosso and Williams. Gascoyne, however, believes that a major development on schedule for the Singapore Grand Prix will help close the gap, and that it – plus the arrival of former Red Bull designer Mark Smith as technical director – will help the team reach the midfield battle next year.
"We said we wanted to be racing in the midfield this year, but we're not," Gascoyne said. "We're in a sort of no-man's land. But we have made a lot of good progress this year and we're two seconds clear of the other new teams, but we're still a second to a second and a half behind the cars ahead of us.
"It would be nice to be actually racing against those guys by the end of the year and actually picking off the odd Williams and Toro Rosso and then start there [next year] and go on. We can do it, I believe. We're shifting the emphasis of development onto next year's car after the summer break, and that should really kick things off.
"Unlike this year's car, which was almost all-new [compared to] to 2010, next year's car will be a development of this year's; same gearbox, same design team, same engine. We'll be able to concentrate on the parts that make the thing quicker rather than having to do it all again."
Gascoyne said that the team, which currently lies 10th in the Constructors' Championship, will adopt a Red Bull KERS unit for 2012, but is adamant that not running such a system this year was the right decision, despite it costing the T128 pace.
"The only option would have been to run the Red Bull KERS [this year], and look at the problems they've been having. It was the right decision. The resources it would have taken would have been huge for the net gain.
"Next year, when we're in the pack, is when we need it. What's it going to give you? Three tenths [of a second per lap]? That will make no difference to us this year, but next year, when we're in among [the pack], we'll need it.
"We'll use the Red Bull unit next year because we're already using their gearbox, so it's the only logical solution. The box will be a development of this year's but the KERS package will be next year's. We're very happy with that."