Lotus must target an aggressive development program in 2012 if it is to build on the early promise shown by its new E20, says Romain Grosjean. The Frenchman believes the team has delivered itself a good platform for the start of the campaign with a car that is easy to work with.
"You can trust the car and push it to the limit," said Grosjean. "If you push a little bit too much you know what is going on next, and this is really good when you are driving the car.
"You push hard and it understeers in the fast corners, then if you push a little bit harder there will be a little bit more understeer. But what is not coming is that you have a snap from somewhere and you don't understand what is going on. This car is really good in that aspect.
Grosjean believes, however, that the ultimate potential of the team will rest on how well it can keep improving its machine. His comments come after a disappointing 2011 campaign, where Lotus Renault (as the team was previously called) started the year with a very strong package but slipped back as it failed to deliver the necessary steps forward.
"I think last year the challenge of the front exhaust was pretty big," said Grosjean. "It worked pretty well at the beginning, but then the team realized quite early that the development of the car would be really tough with this choice.
"This year, we have to bring every race new pieces, even if it is half a tenth or a tenth. It will make the difference at the end of the year. There are 20 grands prix and, if you bring one tenth, which is maybe too optimistic, but half a tenth at each grand prix, then you are one second quicker at the end of the season."
The Lotus has shown itself to be quick in the two tests it has taken part in, and Grosjean thinks the outfit is in the chasing pack behind Red Bull Racing and McLaren.
"There are a few teams that are ahead, like Red Bull and McLaren, who are clearly really good at the moment. But we have a good car. Barcelona was important for us to know that what we found in Jerez is still working well here. The car is as good as it was there, so that is a positive answer we have got. And that is an encouraging sign for the next tests and the first race of the season."